For some blended families in Florida, stepparents want to adopt their stepchildren. Adopting your spouse’s children makes sense due to the love and emotional support you provide. However, at the same time, you may not want to alienate the children’s natural parent. What can you do?
Stepparent adoption maintains the natural parent’s rights
A second-parent or stepparent adoption allows someone to legally adopt their spouse’s or partner’s child without the natural parent losing any legal rights. The adoptive parent then receives the same rights as the biological parents in issues like custody and visitation. Local family court systems all have specific policies that may differ from other jurisdictions, so it’s a good idea to check with local court authorities and a family law attorney before you start the stepparent adoption process.
What you need to have before you start the process
In most cases, you’ll need to have the biological parent’s consent to begin the stepparent adoption process. You may also need to get the child’s consent if they are older. When filing the petition to adopt, you’ll need to go through a criminal background check and agree to appear in court for a hearing. When the court has finalized the adoption, you’ll be listed on the child’s amended birth certificate as a legal parent.
Ensuring you fulfill all legal obligations
As with any other legal process, stepparent adoption follows a specific process involving paperwork, some of which can be confusing. You may easily misunderstand or skip a step that may require you to start the process again.
Although a second-parent adoption doesn’t require you to use the services of a legal professional, it may make the process easier. If the biological parent opposes the adoption, hiring an attorney might be the safest route.