Adoption by Stepparent
When you meet someone and decide to be a part of their life forever, you may decide that you want to adopt their children. There are many reasons to do this, including in order to have the same last name, and the desire for your family to be completely legally recognized.
At the office of Edward J. Jennings, our Fort Lauderdale family law attorneys are experienced in all kinds of adoption cases. We will work to ensure that this process is as simple as possible, and moves forward in a timely manner.
Do We Have to be Married for a Stepparent Adoption?
Yes, in order to qualify for a stepparent adoption, there must be a legally recognized marriage between the two people who wish to be reflected as the child’s legal parents.
How Do I Start this Process?
The first step of a stepparent adoption is filing a petition for adoption. Once this happens, the child’s biological parent has the right to object to the request. If the biological parent elects not to object to the adoption, it can move forward as planned. If the parent objects to the adoption, the adoption can not go through unless it can be proven that the parent should have their rights terminated for the safety of the child.
What is the Process of Stepparent Adoption?
Once you have decided that you want to move forward with the adoption of your child by your current spouse, the first step of the process is to ensure that the biological parent has given up their parental rights. It is also possible for the biological parent to lose their parental rights. Parental rights can be lost for a variety of reasons, including abandonment of the child, being considered dangerous to the child’s health and safety, or long term incarceration of the parent.
If the parent has not yet had their parental rights terminated, it can be a fairly simple process to terminate the rights of the biological parent. If you are able to get in contact with the biological parent, the simplest way to complete this process is to have them fill out a form letting go of their parental rights, which then allows your child to be adopted by their stepparent.
What Happens When You Go to an Adoption Hearing?
One the parental rights have been terminated, the stepparent adoption charge moves forward in a similar fashion as a traditional adoption. There will be a hearing before a judge, and, at this point, the child will be formally adopted by their stepparent. This is when the child is legally considered to be related to the stepparent. While at the adoption hearing, the judge will also sign the forms required for you to be able to legally change your child’s last name if that is a change you wish to make.
What Do I Do Now?
At the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., we are experienced with adoption cases. We understand the importance of forming your family. We have years of experience and will work to ensure that your adoption goes through as quickly as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for help.