For a Florida stepparent adoption to take place, one of the biological parents must relinquish their parental rights to the adopting stepparent. The adopting stepparent is then assigned all the legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent.
If the child is over the age of 12, he or she must consent to the adoption by the stepparent and will be interviewed by the court prior to signing a consent form.
If the birth parent does not consent – or cannot be found to provide consent – the stepparent adoption may be allowed to proceed if you can prove:
Abandonment – if the biological parent is absent and has not asserted any parental rights or has failed to provide support for the child, the court may terminate parental rights. Generally, a parent is considered to be absent if they have not been in contact with or provided any financial support for a child for a year or more.
Paternity – if you can establish that a male absent parent is not the legal father. Under Florida law, a man is presumed to be the biological father of a child if:
• He was married to the mother at the time the child was conceived or born;
• The mother was not married when the child was born but the man acknowledged paternity at the hospital at the time of birth;
• The mother was not married when the child was born but the man acknowledged paternity following the birth by filing a Consenting Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity with the Florida Office of Vital Statistics;
• Paternity was established by a court prior to the date that a petition for termination of parental rights is filed.
Florida stepparent adoptions can be complicated, so it is advisable to confer with a Florida family law attorney before you proceed.