Florida Procedures for Stepparent Adoption

By Melanie Hammond

Adoption is a legal proceeding in which a child's membership in the family he was born into is relinquished, and he becomes a permanent member of a different family. This procedure will completely dissolve the child's relationship with his biological parent(s) and other blood relatives. The adoptive parents will assume all financial and emotional support of this child for the rest of the child's life. In Florida, a stepparent has the legal right to adopt his stepchild. In Florida, a stepparent may adopt his or her spouse's children.

Legal Counsel

According to the Florida Bar, it would be wise for a stepparent to retain legal services when seeking to adopt his stepchild, because the adoption process can be lengthy and complex. Florida law also assumes the principal rights belong to the birth parent, unless the birth parent willingly forfeits his rights or has deserted the child.

Legal Proof

In Florida, a court overseeing a stepparent adoption must receive proof that there is a legal reason to sever the birth parent's relationship with the child. The Florida Bar states this includes permission from the birth parent for the adoption to take place or legal proof that the birth parent has deserted the child. Permission is not required of an unmarried biological father who has not registered his paternity with Florida's Putative Father Registry prior to the filing of a petition to terminate his rights. The court also must interview the stepchild if the child is twelve or older, and obtain her permission before the adoption is approved.

Finalization

In Florida, a stepparent adoption can be finalized immediately after the birth parent's rights are terminated. Stepparent adoptions can also be executed so that finalization of the adoption and severing of the birth parent's rights occur concurrently. The adoption process will be completed at a final hearing, after which the stepparent assumes the same rights and responsibilities that a birth parent would. Usually, the child's last name is changed to match that of the family. The new information is registered with the vital statistics office in the child's birth state, and a new birth certificate will be created, listing the stepparent as the child's birth parent. The child's original birth certificate will not be made available to anyone in the future. After the creation of a new birth certificate, a new Social Security number can be issued and passports obtained in the child's new name.

About the Author

Hammond earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, including concentrations in retail and promotions, from Southern Illinois University in December 2006, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Illinois University in May 2009. Hammond was editor of Signal, a radio programming guide, and contributor to Previews, a television programming guide, both publications of WSIU Public Broadcasting.