Guide to Florida Adoption Requirements

Our Florida adoption attorney at Gulf Coast Adoptions presents this guide to adoption requirements in Florida. If you have questions about the requirements to adopt a child in the Sunshine State, contact us online.

Requirements to Adopt a Child in Florida

The requirements to adopt a child in Florida cover several broad categories:

  • Age: Are you old enough to adopt?
  • Marital status: You don’t have to be married.
  • Health: Are you physically and emotionally fit?
  • Finances: Can you financially support a child?
  • Criminal record: Do you have a disqualifying criminal history?

If you meet the requirements, you may petition the court for adoption. The court approves the adoption if it is in the interests of the child.


How old do you have to be to adopt in Florida?

You must be at least 18 years old to adopt in Florida. Florida Statutes § 63.042 says that any unmarried adult may adopt. The age of majority in Florida is 18 years old. However, you must be at least 21 to be a foster parent and adopt through the foster system.

Minimum age for adoption

For most people, the minimum age for adoption in Florida is 18. However, the law distinguishes between people who are married and people who are not married:

  • Unmarried adult, private adoption: The minimum age for the adoptive parent is 18 years.
  • Unmarried adult, foster care adoption: The minimum age is 21 years.
  • Married person: The minimum marriage age in Florida is 17, with parental consent.

A husband and wife jointly may adopt. So, in theory, a married 17-year-old could adopt. However, that would be a rare circumstance, and the court would scrutinize the best interests of the child. Otherwise, the minimum age is the age of adulthood or 18 years. However, foster care and most private agencies require a minimum age of 21.

Is there a maximum age to adopt in Florida?

While there is no maximum age to adopt in Florida, a parent must prove that they are fit to care for a child. Some agencies impose a maximum age of 50 years old, but there is no age limit set by the state. The health of the prospective parent, the age of the child, and family relationships may be relevant factors when determining if the prospective parent’s age is a barrier to adoption.

Can you adopt an adult in Florida?

Yes. In Florida, adults over the age of 18 can be adopted. The person being adopted must consent.

Marital Status

Do you have to be married to adopt?

No. A person can adopt if they are married or single. If a person is married, the spouse may be required to join in the petition, unless they’re excused for good cause.

Note: Although martial status is not one of the Florida adoption requirements if you are married to the child’s other parent (step-parent or second-parent adoption), it impacts the process to complete the adoption.

Can same-sex couples adopt in Florida?

Yes. In 2010, Florida courts threw out the state ban on same-sex adoptions, ruling it unconstitutional. Couples of all sexual orientations can legally adopt.


What is the health standard for adopting a child in Florida?

An adoptive parent must be physically and mentally fit to care for a child. As part of the home study, the prospective parent must complete a physical and social health history.

It’s not necessary to be in perfect health to adopt a child. Still, physical and mental health are factors, and the adoptive parent must be healthy enough to care for a child.

Can you adopt if you have a disability in Florida?

Florida Statutes § 63.042(3) says that no person is disqualified from adopting just because they have a physical disability or handicap. However, a person may be ineligible if a disability prevents them from being an effective parent.


How much do you have to make to adopt a child in Florida?

There is no minimum amount for what income you must earn to adopt a child in Florida. The legal requirement is that you can provide for the needs of a child.

In 2024, the poverty level for a family of four is $31,200, but circumstances may influence the ability to provide for a child including expenses and non-cash resources. The court looks at the entire situation to determine the fitness to adopt.

Will they consider my income if I want to adopt?

Yes. If you pursue adoption, your income is a part of your home study. You must provide proof of income, like pay statements or tax information. Many people with modest incomes adopt children. You must show that you are financially able to provide for a minor child.

Criminal Record

Can you adopt in Florida if you have a criminal record?

Certain criminal offenses automatically disqualify a person from adopting in Florida.

Disqualifying criminal convictions include:

  • Child abuse
  • Child neglect or abandonment
  • Domestic violence
  • Child pornography
  • Felony with a child victim
  • Homicide
  • Sexual battery
  • Other violent felonies

In addition, a person may not adopt for five years if they are convicted of a felony involving:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Drugs
  • Resisting arrest

Who gets a background check for a Florida adoption petition?

Anyone in the proposed adoptive household, age 12 or older, must have a background check.

Even people who are not the proposed adoptive parents must get a background check if they are living in the household.

What will a background check include for a Florida adoption?

A Florida adoption background check may include:

  • Florida state crimes
  • Local offenses
  • National/federal charges
  • Out-of-state records for anyone who previously resided out of state, for household members 18 and older

In addition, Florida Statutes § 39.0138(6) requires adoptive parents to self-disclose criminal history or pending charges.

What if I have a criminal record, but it’s not automatically disqualifying?

If you have a criminal record, but it isn’t automatically disqualifying for adoption under Florida law, it will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Talk to a Lawyer About the Requirements to Adopt

Gulf Coast Adoptions helps prospective adoptive parents and expectant moms in the adoption process. We offer free consultations — in fact, we talk on the phone for hours for free. Please contact us by phone at 850-999-7977 or submit our online form to talk about adoption requirements that could apply to your situation.

This copy appears in the a.toggle_overlay div.

"*" indicates required fields

Contact Gulf Coast Adoptions today.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.