As an attorney, adoption cases can be fulfilling. To me, it’s a beautiful process that at times can be rewarding. In some cases, the process provides unique opportunities to change a child’s life and an opportunity for adoptive parents to grow a family.
Who can adopt?
According to Florida law, the following people may adopt:
(a) A husband and wife jointly;
(b) An unmarried adult; or
(c) A married person without the other spouse joining as a parent if the person to be adopted is not his or her spouse, and if:
1. The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and consents to the adoption (typically in step-parent adoptions); or
2. The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to consent to the adoption is excused by the court for good cause shown or in the best interest of the child.
What is the Adoption Process in Florida?
Most adoption proceedings in Florida are a two-step process: (1) termination of the parental rights of the birth parent(s); and (2) adoption of the child by the adoptive parent(s). The process both terminates the legal relationship between the child and the birth parent(s) and creates a legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parents.
Termination of Parental Rights:
In Florida, an action for termination of parental rights is necessary before one can adopt. An action for adoption can be opened concurrently with a termination action. But the termination of parental rights must first occur before the adoption can take place.
A final judgment of termination of rights pending adoption terminates all parental rights and responsibilities of the birth parents, except when the adoptive parent is married to one of the birth parents, such as in a step-parent adoption. See Florida Statute §63.172(1)(a).
Is an Attorney Necessary if I want to Adopt?
Adoptions are procedural in nature, and it is recommended to hire an attorney to assist you in the process. From experience, contested cases involving the termination of parental rights of a parent can be complex and the assistance of an attorney will help ease that process.
However, there are many resources that you can use to educate yourself about the process if you chose to represent yourself. For example, the Supreme Court of Florida provides free step-parent adoption forms accessible to the public. Those forms, however, do not serve as a substitute for the assistance of an attorney.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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