A stepparent is a person who is married to a biological parent of a child, but is not a biological parent. While many people might assume that stepparents have parental rights because they are married to the child’s parent, in Florida, this is not the case. In fact a stepparent has no rights to the child. The only way a stepparent can obtain parental rights to a child in Florida is to adopt the child. This is done through a Stepparent Adoption.
How Can Stepparents Adopt in Florida?
In order to complete a Florida stepparent adoption, the parental rights of the biological parent must be terminated. This can be done in a couple of ways. First, the biological parent can agree and consent to the adoption. If the biological parent does not agree or cannot be located, you can ask the court to terminate the biological parents rights. This can only occur under certain circumstances. The most common reason used to terminate a biological parents rights is abandonment. Under Florida law, “Abandoned” means:
“ a situation in which the parent or person having legal custody of a child, while being able, makes little or no provision for the child’s support or makes little or no effort to communicate with the child, which situation is sufficient to evince an intent to reject parental responsibilities. If, in the opinion of the court, the efforts of such parent or person having legal custody of the child to support and communicate with the child are only marginal efforts that do not evince a settled purpose to assume all parental duties, the court may declare the child to be abandoned. In making this decision, the court may consider the conduct of a father towards the child’s mother during her pregnancy.”
In order to terminate a biological parent’s rights, a petition must be filed in circuit court. A hearing will be set in front of the judge. If the judge terminates the biological parents rights, a Petition for Adoption will need to be filed and the adoption can proceed.
If you have any questions about stepparent adoptions, or any other family law matter, please contact us at (407) 838-0887. We have been helping families in all of Central Florida since 2005.