Articles Posted in Adoption

Adoption.jpgNovember is National Adoption Awareness Month, and to celebrate, Floridians all across the state will gather at special ceremonies and community events. And Florida residents have a lot to celebrate; Florida has been recognized nationally for its success in placing foster children in permanent homes.

The success of the program is attributed to a federal funding program that allowed Florida child welfare workers to focus services on at-risk children. Florida has used the funds to provide services such as parenting classes, counseling, mentoring and enhanced support for relative adoptions. The program has reduced the number of children living in foster care and group homes by a third and has cut the re-abuse of children in half. The resulting reduction in caseloads has allowed child welfare workers to focus on getting foster kids adopted, which they have done in record numbers as well.

The program does face some problems going forward. Across the board state budget cuts could mean that Florida will fail to meet minimum state funding requirements to qualify for the federal program. And whether or not Florida makes the funding cut, the program will expire in two years. Find out more about Florida’s foster kids at Celebrate adoption.

Adoption.jpgAlex Sink is the chief financial officer of Florida, and considered the leading democratic candidate for governor of the state. She recently addressed 300 attendees at a gay rights group fundraising dinner, telling them that she believed homosexuals should be legally allowed to adopt children, as long as it is in the child’s best interest. She said that judges should determine what is in a child’s best interest on a case by case basis. Florida is currently the only state to explicitly ban homosexuals from adopting.

Ms. Sink’s opponent, Republican Bill McCollum, has said he would defend Florida’s ban on gay adoption. The debate comes at a time when a state appeals court is considering the case of a gay man in North Miami who wants to adopt his two foster children. The race between McCollum and Ms. Sink is considered close. Find out more about how gay issues are affecting the race at Sink backs adoption by gays, lesbians.

Any adoption will require legal pleadings, documents and proper notice. The adoption of a child is an important decision that should be handled with the services of a family law attorney to make sure procedures are followed correctly. If you are considering adoption, please contact our firm for expert legal support.

Divorce.jpgTV cooking show host Mary Jo Eustace was not very well known until her husband, actor Dean McDermott, divorced her to marry heiress and famous Hollywood actress Tori Spelling in 2006. McDermott and Spelling met on the set of a lifetime movie they were working on together. Ms. Eustace has said she was taken by surprise when her divorce garnered major media attention.

Ms. Eustace has said that her divorce was a shocking surprise as well as very public and humiliating. One of the insults the newly married couple heaped on Ms. Eustace included offering to produce a reality show where Ms. Eustace looks for a new husband. Ms. Eustace declined, and instead is launching her own reality show, which will help women in midlife reinvent themselves after divorce. And she has written a book to tell the world about the pains of her divorce; the book is entitled Divorce Sucks: What to Do When Irreconcilable Differences, Lawyer Fees and Your Ex’s Hollywood Wife Make you Miserable.

In the book she talks about the divorce and her reaction to it, which has included getting over the betrayal of her husband and making more time for herself. You can read more about the new book at Life after divorce: Mary Jo Eustace enjoys her second act.

In Florida, the courts in Miami overturned the ban on gay adoptions in August 2009. Judge Cindy S. Lederman wrote in her opinion that excluding gay couples defeats Florida’s mission to provide all children permanent families. The state has claimed that gays are more likely to suffer from psychological imbalances and substance abuse than heterosexual couples, although several well-respected organizations have said that gay parents do not negatively affect a child’s upbringing.

A statewide resolution must be determined by an appellate court before the ban is officially lifted. Florida is the only state to ban homosexuals from adopting children. A few other states prevent unmarried persons from adopting children, which effectively bans gays, who are not legally allowed to marry in those states. Mississippi allows single people to adopt, no matter what their sexual orientation, but prohibits same-sex partners from adopting jointly.

The state attorney general’s office has appealed the decision so the gay and lesbian community in Florida await the decision to see if they will have the “right” to adopt in Florida.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Florida Family Law Attorney

As an attorney Jacksonville, Florida I have handled stepparent adoptions and seen the incredible impact and purpose it has for a family. If you are married and your child views your spouse as their parent, then you are probably wanting to pursue a stepparent adoption action. Whether you were previously married or had a child out of wedlock, and the other parent has not been in your child’s life, then your current spouse and you may have discussed a stepparent adoption.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Florida Family Law Attorney

In Jacksonville, Florida, as a family law attorney, I receive questions about terminating parental rights. This is not an easy process since there are many protections in place for parents. I will probably do a series of blogs on this topic in order to cover each area, but we will start with the consent and agreement of both parties.

Written By: Lenorae Atter, Jacksonville Family Law Attorney

Stepparent and Guardianship adoptions in Florida are a growing interest and as a Jacksonville family law attorney, I find the statute only gets the process so far. In handling the adoption, there are many different ways for issues to arise and it is helpful to have someone on your side to walk you through the process.

Last week in Jacksonville, Florida, the Florida Times Union ran a story regarding a breakthrough in Grandparent Adoption. For the last four years, since their parents’ deaths, two children have been at the center of a legal battle with both sets of grandparents at the helm. last week there was a major change in Grandparent Adoption in Florida.

The landmark decision by the Florida Supreme Court was that the maternal grandfather, George Smith and his wife, Brenda could adopt the children. George and his wife, Brenda petitioned to adopt the children approximately one month after the children’s father, Eduardo Silvils, died in a car accident. The children’s mother had previously died, leaving the children without a parent.

Silvils’ parents, who were not named in court documents, soutght guardianship of the children instead of adoption. The guardianship was designed to provide the children with a home and family to take care of them. The Silvils’ believed it to the best for all parties because both sets of grandparents would have the opportunity to see the grandchildren, while an adoption could bar them from contact with their grandchildren.

International adoptions are popular not only among Madonna and Angelina Jolie, but Jacksonville, Florida residents as well. As a family law attorney I have clients call once they adopted out of the country and they want to make certain their adoption is legal in the U.S. and in Florida.
Once a child is adopted by a foreign court that document finalizing the adoption can be accepted by the Florida courts as well. The procedure for doing so is important to protect yourself and any issues that may arise regarding that child.
The Florida courts do recognize foreign decrees, foreign orders, but you must petition the court to recognize the decree or order. It is best to speak with an attorney regarding this matter to make certain that all requirements are met from the beginning to speed up the finalization of your adoption which has clearly been a long time coming at this point.

International adoptions, like Madonna’s, have made the news for years in Jacksonville, Florida and throughout the country. As a family law attorney in Jacksonville, I have clients call to find out the process for such adoptions.
The reality is, as evident in Madonna’s current court case in Africa, each country has different adoption laws. In Malawi, where the child resides in Madonna’s case, there is a residency requirement for adoptions. That issue, not the paternity issue, is actually what’s holding things up for the adoption of Chifundo James. Madonna, feeling that celebrity and money can beat laws, is now caught up in the court system to show the best interest of the child is to be adopted regardless of the residency requirement.
This case is a good example of why the normal adopting family should first look into the laws associated with the country they would like to adopt from. You don’t want to get in a situation where you required to relocate for a significant period of time if you don’t have to. It’s best to contact an attorney where you live to help you in your process from the beginning.

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