Pensacola Adoption Law Attorney Helping Grow Families Through Adoption
Blended families are common in Florida, and many step-parents love and care for their step-children as if they were their own. If a child’s biological parents are both living and active in their lives, they will typically be regarded as the child’s legal parents. In cases in which only one parent exercises their parental rights, however, step-parents may be able to obtain legal custody of their step-children via step-parent adoption. Adopting a child is a worthwhile endeavor, but it has substantial legal implications, and it is essential for parties interested in adopting their step-children to contact a lawyer to discuss the process. Clay H. Whittaker of Gulf Coast Adoptions is a knowledgeable Pensacola adoption lawyer who is adept at helping people take the measures needed to legally change the shapes of their families. If you are interested in a step-parent adoption, he can advise you of your options and guide you through the process of defining your rights.
Step-parent Adoption in Florida
Step-parent adoption is the process by which step-parents obtain full and equal parental rights and obligations over their step-children. The Florida Statutes define who may be adopted and adopt. Specifically, they broadly state that any person may be adopted. Regarding step-parent adoption, the law provides that a married person may adopt their spouse's child if the spouse consents to the adoption. A court may also allow an adoption to proceed if the spouse does not consent to the adoption if it finds the adoption is in the best interest of the child or the petitioning party can establish good cause for the lack of consent.
The Process of Completing a Step-parent Adoption
The process of seeking a step-parent adoption begins with the filing of a petition. The petition must include, among other things, the name, birth date, and place of birth of the child and the name the child will be given, and a copy of the child’s birth certificate. The petition also has to indicate the reason the step-parent wants to adopt the child and the length of time the child and step-parent have lived together. The step-parent’s spouse typically must join the petition as well, and the parties have to provide the court with a copy of their marriage certificate.
If the child is twelve or older, they must provide written consent to the adoption. The consent of the non-spouse parent is also usually required. There are some exceptions, though, such as in cases in which the child’s paternity has not been established. The courts can waive consent in certain circumstances, however, such as when a parent’s rights have been terminated, they have been deemed incompetent by the courts and are unlikely to recover, or they have abandoned their child. If the non-spouse parent’s consent is required but not obtained, they can object to the adoption.
If a petition is filed along with the required consents and documentation, the courts will schedule a hearing on the adoption. During the hearing, the court will ask the parties questions to ensure the adoption is in the child's best interest, and in most instances, will issue a judgment of adoption. The judgment has the effect of granting the step-parent full parental rights, relieving the non-spouse parent of all parental rights and responsibilities, and terminating the legal relationships between the adopted child and the non-spouse parent’s relatives.
Confer with a Trusted Pensacola Lawyer
Step-parents frequently take active roles in their step-children’s lives, and in some instances, they have the privilege of being able to solidify their parental rights through a step-parent adoption. If you would like to obtain more information about step-parent adoption, it is advisable to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Clay H. Whittaker of Gulf Coast Adoptions is a trusted Pensacola adoption law attorney who is skilled at helping people navigate the adoption process, and if you engage his services, he will work tirelessly to help you seek your desired outcome. Our office is in Pensacola, and we regularly handle step-parent adoptions and other private adoptions for families throughout Florida. You can reach Attorney Clay Whittaker by calling 850-999-7977.