Family Moments

Stepparent Adoptions:

We have the privilege of helping step-parents legally establish the parent-child relationship that already exists, through an outward demonstration. 

Frequently asked questions

How do we know if stepparent adoption is the right choice for our family?

First we will need to determine whether the stepparent is eligible to adopt the child. They will need to be married to a legal parent of the child, and be an effective and active particpant in the child's life. By working with your Adoptive Parent Coordinator, you will be provided with education and resources to help you know all of your options. You will discuss things such as your financial ability, and living situation - just to name a few - which can help you decide if stepparent adoption is the best option for your family. We will dicuss all of your expectations and answer your questions to create a customized stepparent adoption plan for your family.

How much does it cost to adopt a stepchild in Florida?

After you have decided that adoption is the right choice for you and your stepchild, the next question is often, what is the cost? A step-parent adoption will typically be a flat fee between $2,000 and $4,000. The flat fee is typically only for an uncontested case with consents from the existing legal parents. This fee does not include required legal expenses such as, court costs, new documents such a birth certifcates and certified judgements.

Who's consent is needed in order for a stepparent to adopt a child?

The biological parent must first consent to the adoption. Second, the biological parent who's rights are being terminated, must also sign a Consent to Stepparent Adoption. However, the need for the consent may waived in some situations where that person cannot be found or has abandoned the child or is deceased. Consent is also not needed if a biological parent has already had their rights terminated or has been declared incompetent and the parent is not likely to get better.

What is considered child abandonment in Florida?

Florida law defines abandonment as a situation in which the parent, while being able, makes little or no provision for the child’s support or makes little or no effort to communicate with the child. The situation must demonstrate an intent to reject parental responsibilities.
It will then be up to the adoption judge to determine whether or not the efforts of such a parent to support and communicate with the child are only marginal efforts that do not evidence a settled purpose to assume all parental duties. The judge may then declare the child to be abandoned by the biological parent.

Do you have to adopt to be a stepparent?

No, but you will be a stepparent only. In other words, a person that is married to another person who has a child does not have legal parental rights to that child simply because of the marriage. It is not your child until you complete a step-parent adoption and then you will receive equal parental rights and responsibilities to the child.

How long does a biological parent have to be absent for it to be considered child abandonment in Florida?

The judge in the adoption case will look at the facts and situation as a whole. There is no statutory time limit on how long a biological stepparent has to be absent for the situation to be considered abandonment.

Does a child get to choose a stepparent adoption?

Generally, a child does not get to decide the result of a stepparent adoption case in Florida. However, the child's preference can be a factor in the judge's determination. Also, before a child can testify the judge must first approve the testimony of a minor.

Will I need to do a home study?

No, a home study is not required in a stepparent adoption, as the biological parent already has physical and legal custody of the child.

Can same-sex couples do a stepparent adoption?

As of January 2015, when it was legalized that same-sex couples were now able to get married so gay and lesbian couples can adopt the child of their same-sex spouse. Previously, gay and lesbian couples would have to go through a slightly different process called a second parent adoption.

Why should I adopt my stepchild?

Under Florida law, a stepparent adoption gives a married person full and equal parental rights and responsibilities over his or her stepchild. The legal effect of the stepparent adoption is granted by a court order called a Final Judgment of Step Parent Adoption. The result of the adoption judgment is that the adopting parent becomes just as much of a parent as his or her spouse. It is as if the child was born to the biological parent and the step parent. The birth certificate is amended to reflect the names of the stepparent and the biological parent. This eases the legal process of estate planning, custody arrangements and medical consents.

Does my child need to give consent to the stepparent adoption?

Children under the age of 12, generally do not need to give consent. If the child to be adopted is over the age of 12, they will need to give a written consent to be adopted. The child will meet with your Adoptive Parent Coordinator to be interviewed and sign an affidavit that shows their agreement with the stepparent adopting them and their legal name being changed.

How long will a stepparent adoption take to complete?

If all the parties are available and the absent biological parent consents to the adoption and is easily able to sign consent documents, it will take 2-4 months to complete. If the absent biological parent contests the adoption or is unable to be found the timeline will extend. A good faith effort must be made to find the absent biological parent and give them an opportunity to consent or contest the adoption.