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Adoption and Stepparent Adoption

Adoption is an exciting and positive experience, but it’s can also be challenging. One of the most challenging aspects of the process are the legal requirements.

Whether you are adopting a child who is not currently part of your family or you are a stepparent adopting your spouse’s child, it’s important to find an experienced legal professional to help you with the adoption.

Adoption Process

Though the reasons for adoption might differ from family to family, most of the time the process is relatively similar.

First, it must be determined if the person or persons wishing to adopt, be they an individual, a couple, or a stepparent, are eligible to do so. According to Florida Statute 63.042, most adults are eligible to adopt provided they do not have a disability that would prevent them from being an effective parent. These guidelines apply to hetero- and same-sex couples, individuals, and stepparents.

Next, the person wishing to adopt must file a petition asking the court to permit the adoption. The court will consider a number of factors when reviewing the petition, including whether or not parental rights were terminated by the child’s biological parent or parents.

Even if there is no official termination, it might still be possible to adopt a child, but additional information is required, including a reason for why no official consent to the adoption was given.

In addition to the petition, the request to the court to adopt a child also needs to include:

  • Copies of any judgments terminating parental rights or consent to the adoption
  • Documentation of an interview with the child for children 12 years of age or older when the court determines such an interview is in the child’s best interest
  • Any reports or recommendations ordered by the court (no additional reports are usually required in stepparent adoptions unless the court deemed them necessary)

What You Should Know about Adoption Consent and Termination of Parental Rights

In order for a child to be adopted, the court needs to determine if the biological mother and/or biological father, have consented to the adoption or that consent is not necessary. In stepparent adoptions, the consenting parent is the parent who currently has and will retain custody and is likely now married to the adopting parent, but the other parent also needs to agree to the adoption or have his or her parental rights terminated.

If a biological parent refuses to provide consent, parental rights can still be terminated if:

  • The parent or parents have either deserted or otherwise abandoned the child
  • The parent’s rights were terminated in another proceeding. A few reasons this can happen is if the parent previously abandoned the child, it was determined he or she was a danger to the child’s well-being, or he or she has been incarcerated for a certain period of time.
  • The parent was declared incompetent with little chance of being ruled competent in the future.

The father of a child involved in a stepparent adoption need only consent to the adoption if:

  • The child was born while he was married to the child’s mother
  • He had previously adopted the child
  • The court determined him to be the biological father of the child
  • He filed an affidavit of paternity
  • He acknowledged he was the child’s biological father in accordance with state law

There are many things to consider when adopting a child, regardless whether it’s your spouse’s biological child or not. It’s important to have the guidance of an experienced attorney helping you through the process.

An Attorney Can Help You with the Legal Aspects of Adoption and Stepparent Adoption

My primary legal focus is Florida Family Law, but I also remain active in both the New Jersey and New York Bars. I’ve assisted clients with alimony and custody issues and am familiar with laws regarding adoption in all three states.

I’m uniquely qualified to handle a variety of issues and to provide support for clients who want to work with a single attorney who knows laws in all three jurisdictions. I’m able to travel and work throughout the three states, and I’m able to provide clients with a range of options and information.

Wayne F. Jentis, Esq. and East Coast Law, P.A.’s offices are headquartered in Melbourne, Florida (321) 984-4100, with satellite offices and phone numbers in Princeton, New Jersey (609) 921-0033, and New York, New York (212) 729-9987. My team has experience assisting families with adoption and stepparent adoption in Florida, New York, and New Jersey.

If you have questions or you are considering adoptions, please contact us at one of the numbers above to schedule a consultation.  We provide in depth consultations for a nominal fee that can help you understand your legal rights and to provide you with various options you may have to address your concerns.

Contact Us

East Coast Law P.A.

A FL, NJ & NY Law Firm

FLORIDA Main Office
1900 S. Harbor City Blvd.
Suite 315
Melbourne, FL 32901
Ph: (321) 984-4100
Fax: (888) 471-5693

New Jersey
475 Wall St.
Princeton, NJ 08540
Ph. (609) 921-0033
Fax: (609) 921-8668

New York
130 Malcolm X Blvd.
Suite 1107
New York, NY 11026
Ph. (212) 729-9987
Fax: (888) 471-5693