Stepparent Adoption FAQs

How Does a Stepparent Qualify to Adopt?

Most individuals qualify. You are eligible to adopt your stepchild, in Florida if: (1) you are married to the child’s legal parent and; (2) you are physically capable of caring for the child. If you have a disability or medical condition that impairs your ability to understand or react to your surroundings, this will negatively impact your case and could prevent the adoption.

How Long Does the Process Take?

It depends. If the other parent consents to the adoption, the process is relatively straight forward. A final hearing can be set as soon as the Petition for Stepparent Adoption and supporting documents have been properly filed.

If the other parent is contesting the adoption, the process is more complicated. You will first need to terminate the other parent’s parental rights before the adoption can take place. This process can take months or even years.

What if I Cannot Locate the Child’s Biological Mother of Father?

After a diligent search and inquiry, if you still cannot locate the child’s other parent, you may be able to proceed with the adoption case by serving him/her by publication. You will run an advertisement in the newspaper with a copy of the petition and summons at least once per week for 4 consecutive weeks. After the time lapses, you can proceed with the case.

What if the Biological Parent Won’t Consent?

If the other parent won’t consent, you will have to prove that he/she is unfit and termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child. The judge will decide whether to grant your petition. If you are successful with the termination of parental rights case, your spouse can move forward with the adoption.

Can Same-Sex Couples Adopt?

Yes. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court stuck down all state bans that prevented same-sex marriages. Same-sex married couples are now treated the same as heterosexual couples in stepparent adoption proceedings.

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