Consent to Adoption From Absent Father

by Krista from Brevard County, Florida

Do I need consent from absent father to change my son's last name? My eight year old son's father is currently in jail and is a registered sex offender.

He has not been a part of my son's life and has never supported him financially. I am the only parent listed on the birth certificate but paternity has been established.

My son knows who he is but has no relationship with him. He has been in and out of jail and rehab from the time my son has been two weeks old.

I am married now and would like to change my son's last name to mine and possibly have my husband adopt him. Do I need to get the father's consent or can this be done even if he is not willing to agree?

Answer to Florida Adoption Question

Dear Krista,

Since your current husband is willing to adopt your son, and according to what you told me, you should be able to proceed without the father's consent.

The Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption, Form 12.981(b)1, includes the termination of parental rights of the parent terminating rights. Usually, it must be consensual, but not always.

That form and other family law forms can be found on the Florida Supreme Court's website, Instructions for the Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption, state in part:

This form should be used when a stepparent is adopting his or her spouse’s child. Both the stepparent and his or her spouse must sign this petition. You must attach all necessary consents or acknowledgments that apply to your case, as listed under the Special Notes section below. Florida Statutes require that consent to adoption be obtained from:
  • the mother of the minor.

  • the father of the minor if:

    1. the minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother;

    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)

Item 10, on the Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption, asks for the following information:

10. The following person(s) whose consent is required has not consented. The facts/ circumstances that excuse the lack of consent and would justify termination of this person’s parental rights are:
Name Address Facts/circumstances: ________________

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Comments for Consent to Adoption From Absent Father

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Step Parent Adoption & Unknown Biological Father
by: Jennifer from Port St. Lucie

My current husband would like to adopt my 6 (nearly 7) year old daughter. He has been helping to raise her since she was 14 months old. I am not sure who the biological father is for sure.

After my first divorce I went a bit wild and found out I was pregnant with my daughter. My husband has been wanting to adopt her since the day we met but just unsure how the process works without "parental consent from the biological father".

Can you please help guide us in the right direction, some of the men I slept with I don't know their full names in order to get paternity tests and such. I reside in Florida again, those other possibilities are either from Wyoming or Nebraska. My daughter was born in Nebraska.

--Since the biological father is unknown to you, the judge will likely require a search of the Putative Father Registry, see the Motion for Search of the Putative Father Registry, Form 12.981(a)(6) for more information.

Otherwise, consent is not required because you do not know who the biological father is. The instructions for the Joint Petition for Adoption state this clearly. --Staff

Parental Rights & Stepparent Adoption
by: Sarah from Sarasota, Florida, Sarasota County

My daughter is 5 years old and has never met her biological father. He has been incarcerated for 3 or more years since her birth. He has two different children that he has given up rights to as well. I have never received any kind of child support from him for her. How do I go about getting him to sign his rights over? I am remarried and my husband wants to adopt her. He is the only father she has ever known.

--The process in Florida for stepparent adoption is straight forward. There is a form for the biological father's consent to the stepparent adoption, which he can sign voluntarily. The parental consent form also terminates his parental rights voluntarily; because there is an adoption pending.

My suggestion is to send him the consent form and ask him to sign it. It must be notarized and witnessed by two people. The correctional facility should have a way for inmates to have papers notarized. If he will not voluntarily sign, you may still be able to go forward without his consent. If after sending him the consent form, he does not return it within a reasonable time, you can go ahead and file the joint petition for stepparent adoption anyway. You can then have the biological father served with the joint petition for stepparent adoption that you filed.

There are other forms that must be filed along with the joint petition for stepparent adoption. Read the form instructions carefully, and you should have him served with everything that must be filed with the clerk of court. Once he has been properly served, he has 30 days to respond with a written answer. He is supposed to file his answer with the clerk of court and also send you a copy of his answer.

If he does not answer, and the 30 days has passed, you can contact the clerk of court and find out what you must do to to request a hearing. When you go to the hearing explain to the judge that he was properly served, and did not respond. You should bring your proof of service to the court hearing with you. Also explain to the judge that your daughter does not know him and that he has been incarcerated for most of her life. Have a look at our Florida Stepparent Adoption page form more information about parental rights and adoptions in Florida. --Staff

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