Currently, the law does not provide stepparents with the same legal rights as a biological parent even if this stepparent has taken on the day-to-day role of parenting the child. This is one of the many reasons that stepparents choose to adopt their stepchildren. If you are considering a stepparent adoption in the State of Florida, taking the time to review the important facts below can help you to prepare for this important legal process.
A Child Cannot Legally Have More Than Two Parents
The law currently recognizes one mother and one father for each child. If both of your stepchild's parents still have their parental rights, you will need to go about having the rights of the absent parent terminated before the adoption process can be completed. There are two ways in which you can go about accomplishing this task.
The most common way to accomplish this task is to ask the other parent to voluntarily sign away their rights. If they agree to this request, you will be able to move forward with the adoption process much more quickly.
In the event that the absent parent refuses to give consent, the court may be able to involuntarily terminate their rights if certain criteria is met. For instance, if the parent has abandoned the child, failed to maintain a meaningful relationship, or is incarcerated for an extended period of time, their parental rights may be terminated without their consent. Once this process is complete, you will be able to proceed with your adoption petition.
Children Over The Age Of 12 Will Need To Consent To A Stepparent Adoption
Once a child reaches the age of 12, the State of Florida recognizes their ability to make decisions regarding their best interest. Consequently, the law requires that all children who have reached this age of consent will both sign a written consent form and verbally consent in court before the stepparent adoption can be finalized. In some cases, the court may also require the child to be interviewed by a therapist in order to determine whether or not they are aware of the legal consequences of being adopted by their stepparent.
A Stepparent Adoption Provides The Same Rights As Are Awarded To Biological And Other Adoptive Parents
Once your stepparent adoption if finalized, you will be awarded all of the same legal rights as a biological or other adoptive parent. This means that your name will appear on the child's birth certificate, you will have the opportunity to change the child's last name to reflect the new family name, and you will have the right to seek full or joint custody in the event that you and the child's other parent were to divorce in the future. Along with these rights will come the responsibility to provide financial, emotional, and spiritual support for the child until they reach the adulthood.
For more information, contact a family law specialist, such as The Law Office Of James R. Kennedy Jr.