Tampa Stepparent & Relative Adoption Lawyer
If you’ve recently remarried following a divorce, you may be questioning whether or not your spouse can legally adopt your child in the state of Florida. Simply, the answer is yes, a stepparent can adopt his or her step child, so long as the correct procedural steps are followed.
In order to initiate a stepparent adoption, the stepparent must have a petition filed with the court. The petition should include certain information regarding the duration of time the child has been in the stepparent’s custody, any planned name changes (i.e. changing the last name of the child), proof that the stepparent is physically capable of caring for the child, reasons the stepparent wishes to adopt the child, among others. If you wish to adopt your stepchild, or if your significant other wishes to adopt your own child, reach out to the Tampa stepparent & relative adoption lawyers at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group to discuss your legal options for doing so today.
What About the Child’s Other Parent?
Presumably, the child’s other parent is still alive. One can easily see how this might become problematic, as that parent may not wish to give up his or her parenting rights. Before a stepparent adoption can take place, the court must find that both parents have given consent to the stepparent adoption or that consent is not necessary. If and when both parents have provided consent to the stepparent adoption, the court will memorialize the consent in writing before a notary. If the parent that is not married to the stepparent provides consent, he or she gives up his or her visitation and parenting rights to the child, so it is important that the parent in question understands the legal consequences of providing consent.
But What if the Parent Doesn’t Give Consent?
It happens. Suppose the parent that is not married to the stepparent receives notice of the petition for stepparent adoption and does not wish to provide consent. Since he or she has certain rights outlined in the divorce decree, his or her rights must be dealt with. There are a few cases in which it is not necessary to receive consent from the non-consenting parent. Below are a few examples of when consent may not be necessary:
- If the parent has deserted the child without identification of either the child or his or her parents or has abandoned the child, consent from this parent is not necessary.
- If in a previous proceeding the parent’s rights were terminated for any reason, consent is not necessary. This can happen for a number of reasons, including abandoning the child, failing to comply with the case plan filed with the court, the parent’s behavior has in some way endangered the health and well-being of the child, or the parent has been incarcerated for any length of time.,
- If the parent has been declared incompetent for any reason with little chance of becoming competent, consent is not necessary. For example, if the parent is bedridden, he or she will be declared incompetent.
Termination of Parenting Rights
If the court decides that consent from the non-consenting parent is not necessary, it will then enter orders approving the adoption and the non-consenting parent’s rights will be terminated. This would also terminate any child support orders in addition to visitation rights.
Work With a Tampa Adoption Lawyer to Obtain the Best Possible Outcome
If you wish to adopt your stepchild, or if your partner wishes to adopt your child, contact the Tampa stepparent adoption lawyers at Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group today. Our team can help you review your options and, if we determine that adoption is an option, advise you on what you can do to make the process as smooth as possible.