Adoption is the process of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where such a relationship did not exist. When an adoption is complete the parental rights of the biological parents are terminated, and the adopting parties assume all rights, privileges, and obligations as parents of the adopted child. Generally, there are three types of adoption cases in Florida. The most common type of adoption cases are when the parents voluntarily consent to the adoption. The second type of adoption cases originate in dependency cases. In dependency termination cases, the court determines it’s not in the child’s best interest to remain with the biological parent. Thirdly, are Florida stepparent adoption cases. All three forms of adoption are strictly regulated by Florida’s adoption laws. Navigating and understanding Florida stepparent adoption laws can be difficult, if you need assistance contact a Tampa child custody attorney.
Terminating Parental Rights in a Florida Stepparent Adoption Case
In order to complete a Florida stepparent adoption, the parental rights of the biological parent must be terminated. The biological mother automatically obtains parental rights upon birth of the child. Therefore, in every adoption case where the mother is still living there must be a judgment of termination of parental rights entered by a court of law before the adoption can occur. If the mother was married at the time of conception or birth, the mother’s husband will also acquire parental rights automatically upon the birth of the child. Fathers to children born out of wedlock will need to legally establish paternity. Until paternity is established, the father will not be legally recognized under Florida child custody law. For assistance with establishing paternity contact a Tampa child custody attorney.
Florida Stepparent Adoption with Consent of the Biological Parents
Adoption by consent can only occur if all the persons required to consent under Florida adoption law consent to the adoption in accordance with Florida’s requirements. If the minor child to be adopted is over 12 years of age the child must consent as well. See Carlson v. Keene. The minor child’s consent must either occur in front of the judge or be acknowledged before a notary public in the presence of two witnesses.
Generally, the written consent of the mother is required in consent adoption cases. The mother’s consent must occur at least 48 hours after the birth of the child to be legally binding. If the father has legally vested his parental rights his consent will also be required. Additionally, the law will require the consent of any other person who has legal custody of the child. However, a court does have authority to not require consent in the following circumstances:
- The parent has deserted the child without means of identification. See Florida Adoption Law 63.064
- The parent’s parental rights have previously been terminated by a court of law
- The parent has been legally declared incompetent
Revoking Consent to a Florida Stepparent Adoption
Consent to adoption should not be taken lightly, the consent to a Florida stepparent adoption may not be withdrawn on a mere whim or because of a change of heart. Under Florida law, consent to a Florida stepparent adoption may only be revoked if the consent was obtained by fraud or duress. See Florida Adoption Statute 63.082. Absent fraud, duress, or undue influence a consent to adoption that is given voluntarily and freely is irrevocable. Further, the party wishing to revoke the consent has the burden of proving fraud or duress was present with clear and convincing evidence. Revocation of consent will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, if you think you may be entitled to revoke a prior consent to adoption you should contact a child custody lawyer in Tampa for advice about your specific case.
Tampa Child Custody Law Firm
If you are interested in adoption or need help preventing termination of your parental rights contact Florida Law Advisers. We have years of experience in both advocating for and against adoption. Our professional legal team is dedicated and passionate about these matters and will work tirelessly to help achieve the outcome you desire. To speak with a child custody lawyer in Tampa call us today at 800 990 7763, we are available to answer your calls 24/7.