Stepparent adoption is one of the most common forms of adoption in Florida. It’s a relatively easy process. As long as you are legally married to your spouse, are able to effectively parent the child, and the adoption is in the child’s best interest, you are eligible to legally adopt your spouse’s child. At the conclusion of the adoption process, you will become the child’s legal parent with all rights and obligations of parenthood. The former parent will no longer have parental rights or obligations regarding the child.
In order to adopt your stepchild, you will need to:
- Secure the termination of the other parent’s rights by…
- Having the other parent sign a Consent for Adoption, or in some cases, an Affidavit of Non-Paternity; or
- Proving that the other parent abandoned the child, or that the other parent is deceased, incapacitated or incarcerated (and will remain so for the majority of the child’s minority).
- Obtain your spouse’s consent and the child’s consent (if age 12 or older)
- File joint petition to terminate the other parent’s rights with the court, a hearing will be set
- If you’d like to change the child’s name, that can be done at the hearing
- Once the judge signs the Final Judgement of Adoption, you will become the child’s legal parent
The advantages of stepparent adoption are many. Not only are you legalizing a relationship that has often already existed for years, but the child may also be eligible to be on your insurance and you may be able to claim the child as a dependent on your tax returns.
Stepparent adoption also comes with consequences. The adopting parent will become a full legal parent with the obligations of parenthood. The adopting parent must support the child and will have the rights of custody and visitation with the child as any other legal parent would.
If you are ready to explore adopting your spouse’s child, reach out to The Adoption Law Offices of Madonna Finney. Madonna Finney is board certified in Adoption and is a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. Our attorneys are committed to helping build families through adoption. We would be happy to help you with your stepparent adoption needs.
We can be reached at (850) 577-3077