1. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
ADOPTION IN FLORIDA
“Given the complexity of the process, it is always best to
work closely with an experienced Florida family law
attorney if you are considering step-parent adoption.
An understanding of some of the issues involved in a
step-parent adoption may be helpful as you decide
whether to proceed.”
2. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
In the 21st century, divorce is common; so is remarriage. As a result, blended
families have become the norm. If you have remarried, or plan to remarry in the
near future and you have a child from a previous marriage, you undoubtedly hope
that your new spouse will develop a healthy, loving relationship with your child.
Sometimes, the relationship between step-parent and child will actually surpass the
relationship the child has with his/her natural parent. The step-parent-child
relationship may flourish where the child’s natural parent is deceased. You may
reach the point at which you and your new spouse begin to consider formalizing and
legalizing the parent- child relationship between your new spouse and your child by
pursuing a step-parent adoption. Given the importance of the outcome, and the
3. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
complexity of the process, it is always best to work closely with an experienced
Florida family law attorney to assist you through the step-parent adoption process.
A brief understanding of some of the issues involved in a step-parent adoption may
be a help as you consider how to proceed.
Who May Adopt a Step-Child in Florida?
The first step in any adoption, including a step-parent adoption, is to make sure the
prospective parent is qualified to adopt in the State of Florida. Florida Statute
63.042 governs who may adopt in Florida, stating, in pertinent part:
4. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
(2) The following persons may adopt:
(a) A husband and wife jointly;
(b) An unmarried adult; or
(c) A married person without the other spouse joining as a petitioner, if the
person to be adopted is not his or her spouse, and if:
1. The other spouse is a parent of the person to be adopted and
consents to the adoption; or
2. The failure of the other spouse to join in the petition or to
consent to the adoption is excused by the court for good cause
shown or in the best interest of the child.
(3) No person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a
(4) No person eligible under this section shall be prohibited from adopting solely
because such person possesses a physical disability or handicap, unless it is
determined by the court or adoption entity that such disability or handicap renders
such person incapable of serving as an effective parent.
NOTE: Although the statute specifically prohibits homosexuals from adopting, the
Florida courts have largely overruled that section of the statute. Moreover, in light of
the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Obergefell v. Hodges declaring the right
to marry to be a fundamental
right, the remaining ban
adoption will likely
disappear completely given
the fact that the prohibition
5. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
was based on the fact that same-sex marriage was banned in Florida when the
statute was enacted.
Who Must Consent to a Step-Parent Adoption in Florida?
Before you can move forward with a step-parent adoption in Florida, you must
obtain consent from
certain people, including:
The mother of the
The father of the
1. the minor was
conceived or born
while the father
was married to
2. the minor is his child by adoption;
3. the minor has been established by a court proceeding to be his child;
4. he has filed an affidavit of paternity pursuant to section 382.013(2)(c)
Florida Statutes; or
5. in the case of an unmarried biological father, he has acknowledged in
writing, signed in the presence of a competent witness, that he is the father
of the minor, has filed such acknowledgment with the Office of Vital
Statistics of the Department of Health within the required timeframes, and
has complied with the requirements of section 63.062(2).
6. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
What about Termination of Parental Rights?
One situation in which consent
of a parent is not needed is
when the parent’s parental
rights have been legally
terminated. This may have
occurred prior to the decision
to pursue adoption or may
occur simultaneously. Florida
Statute 39.806 governs
termination of parental rights
in the State of Florida. There
are several grounds under which a parent’s legal rights to a child may be
terminated, the most common of which include:
When a parent has executed a voluntary surrender
When the parent’s conduct threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical,
mental, or emotional health of the child.
The parent is incarcerated and will be for a significant portion of the child’s
life OR the parent has been adjudicated violent career criminal or been
convicted of certain specific crimes OR a court determines that continuing the
parent-child relationship will be harmful to the child.
The child has been adjudicated dependent and the parent has failed to comply
with the case plan.
The parent has engaged in “egregious” conduct, meaning conduct that
threatens the health and/or well-being of the child or a sibling.
7. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
When Is the Child’s Consent Needed?
As a general rule, a prospective adoptee must also consent to having a step-parent
adopt him/her if the child is over the age of 12 years old. A court, however, may
waive this requirement under certain circumstances.
8. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
What Is the Process for Step-Parent Adoption?
Because every adoption is unique, it is always best to consult with an experienced
Florida family law attorney for answers to specific procedural questions. The most
common steps involved in a step-parent adoption include:
1. Filing the Petition. A Petition to Adopt is filed in the Circuit Court in the
county where the Petitioner (person wishing to adopt) is a resident. The
Petition includes identifying information about the child and Petitioner as well
as a statement explaining why the Petitioner wishes to adopt the child.
2. Providing the supporting documents. A number of supporting documents
must also be filed concurrently with the Petition to Adopt, including
a. Consents to the adoption
9. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
b. Judgment of termination of parental rights
c. Proof of interview with the child if over 12.
d. Reports by outside agencies (not always required in a step-parent
3. Complying with notice requirements. Whenever a Petition is filed with a
court, the law requires “notice” be given to certain “interested” parties. In a
step-parent adoption the interested parties would typically include anyone
who has legal rights to
the child. If both
parents have provided
consent, and no one
else has legal rights to
the child, notice need
not be given to anyone,
meaning the adoption
may proceed without
further delay. If notice
is required, the law
provides specific methods that may be used to effectuate service of process.
The interested parties are then given a short period of time within which an
objection to the adoption must be filed or their right to object is forever
4. Final hearing. At the final hearing, the court will finalize the adoption if all
prerequisites are met. Once the order of adoption is entered, the step-parent
becomes the child’s legal parent.
10. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
If you have decided to pursue a step-parent adoption, consult with an experienced
Florida family law attorney at Beiner, Inkeles, and Horvitz (561-750-1800;
beinerlaw.com) to assist you with navigating the complex adoption process.
11. Step-Parent Adoption in Florida www.beinerlaw.com
About Beiner, Inkeles & Horvitz
Beiner, Inkeles & Horvitz, with offices in Boca Raton and New York City, is a boutique law firm
(four attorneys with a combined experience of more than 100 years and two paralegals), large
enough to have all of the latest, sophisticated modalities to ensure that our clients are receiving
cutting edge legal support, yet small enough that each client receives the personal attention of one
of our very experienced senior attorneys. We have extensive experience in all areas of family law,
including negotiating and drafting Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements; obtaining relativlely
simple, uncontested divorces; litigating complex divorce cases involving child-support, equitable
distribution schemes, alimony, and pension and profit-sharing QDRO’s; seeking modification of
existing support and visitation Orders.
We also meet with clients to understand their particular familial and financial circumstances,
counsel them with regard to how they can pass their wealth to their loved ones as simply as
possible, avoiding probate, while reducing or eliminating their potential estate tax exposure.
Using Revocable (Living) Trusts, HEALTH CARE Proxies, Pre-Need Guardian Designations, and
other such estate planning tools, we attempt to assure that our clients will be cared for and
protected both during their lives and thereafter.
We invite you to call for a consultation with one of our senior attorneys to discuss your particular
needs and concerns, so that we can advise and counsel you and attempt to resolve your matter
amicably and expeditiously. Our firm offers mediation as a way to resolve conflict without lengthy
and costly litigation. Stephen Beiner is a Florida Certified Mediator and Harvey Nussbaum now
devotes all of his practice to mediation. We can either serve as a mediator to attempt to resolve
the pending issues in your matter or we can accompany you to mediation to make sure that your
rights are protected during the negotiation and settlement process.
And if you have gotten a bad result in your case and you think the judge has erred, we handle
appeals from previous decisions; appeals must be filed within 30 days of the decision being
rendered by the Court.
Beiner, Inkeles & Horvitz, P.A.
2000 Glades Road, Suite 110
Boca Raton, FL 33431