Stepparent Adoption Forms

Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent

Are you looking for Florida stepparent adoption forms? We explain the process to file the Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent, Form 12.981(b)(1) with links to supporting forms.

Many of our clients have difficulty understanding the instructions on the court approved forms.

There may be confusion on the required forms, questions on procedures, or just the meaning of a particular word or two.

Usually the difficulty comes from the stale legalese language used on the forms, and the assumption that people can just "look it up."

Yes, people can look it up, but this can lead to a wild goose chase, typically taking a lot of time and wasted effort.

That's why we have written these handy pages explaining the family law petitions.

This one is on how to file and follow through on the Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption, form 12.981(b)(1). Click the thumbnail picture on the left to download the latest version of the form so you can follow along.

Joint Petition - Adoption By Stepparent

The following are instructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form

When should this Stepparent Adoption form be used?

This adoption form should be used when a stepparent is adopting his or her spouse’s child in Florida.

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 stepparent adoption forms section below.

Florida Statutes require that consent to adoption be obtained from:

  1. the mother of the minor.
  2. the father of the minor if:
  • the minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother;
  • the minor is his child by adoption;
  • the minor has been established by a court proceeding to be his child;
  • he has filed an affidavit of paternity pursuant to section 382.013(2)(c) Florida Statutes; or
  • 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 section 63.062(2).

Determining whether someone’s consent is required may be a complicated issue and you may wish to consult an attorney.

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For more information about consenting to adoption, you should refer to Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, and sections 63.062 - 63.082 in particular.

The name to be given to the children after the adoption should be used in the heading of the adoption petition.

The stepparent is the petitioner, because he or she is the one who is asking the court for legal action.

After completing these stepparent adoption forms, you and your spouse must sign it before a notary public or deputy clerk.

You should then file the original stepparent adoption form and 1 copy with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the minor resides unless the court changes the venue.

What are your next steps?

For your Florida stepparent adoption case to proceed, you must have the written consent of the other birth parent and the child, if applicable.

The court may choose not to require consent to an adoption in some circumstances.

For more information about situations where consent may not be required, see section 63.064, Florida Statutes. Section 63.054, Florida Statutes, requires that in each adoption proceeding the Florida Putative Father Registry be searched.

You will need an order from the judge to do this, which you can request by filing a Motion for Search of the Putative Father Registry, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(6).

Now it's time to set the hearing

When you have filed all of the required stepparent adoption forms and met the requirements as outlined above, you are ready to set a hearing on your stepparent adoption joint petition.

You should check with the clerk of court, family law intake staff or the judicial assistant to set a final hearing.

What is Service?

Service means giving a copy of the required papers to the other party using the procedure that the law requires.

There are 4 ways to make service:

  • personal service
  • service by mail
  • hand delivery
  • constructive service

Personal service means when a summons and a copy of a petition (or other pleading) that has been filed with the court are delivered by a deputy sheriff or private process server to the other party. Personal service is required for all petitions and supplemental petitions..

When personal service is required, you cannot serve these papers on the other party yourself or by mail or hand delivery. Personal service must be performed by someone who can legally do so by law, usually the county sheriff or by a licensed process server.

Constructive service means service by publication. Service by publication is posting a legal notice on a court approved publication, usually a local newspaper. If the party that needs to be served cannot be located and service is required, constructive service can be used.

If all persons required to consent have consented and the stepparent adoption forms, consents/affidavits of nonpaternity have been filed with the court, the hearing may be held immediately.

If not, notice of the stepparent adoption hearing must be given as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure.

See Form 1.902, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. If you know where the other birth parent lives, you should use personal service.

If you absolutely do not know where he or she lives, you may use constructive service.

Constructive Service in Florida

In order to use constructive service you will need to complete and submit to the court an Affidavit of Diligent Search, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(4).

For more information about personal and constructive service, you should refer to the General Information for Self-Represented Litigants and the instructions to Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.910(a) and Form 12.913(b) and Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.913(a).

However, the law regarding constructive service is very complex and you may wish to consult an attorney regarding that issue.

Where can I look for more information?

Before proceeding, you should read General Information for Self-Represented Litigants for more information on stepparent adoption forms.

See Chapter 63, Florida Statutes, and Florida Family Law Rule 12.200(a)(2) for further information.

With these stepparent adoption forms petition you must file the following (see links below):

  • Consent form executed by the birth parent, Stepparent Adoption: Consent and Waiver by Parent, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(1) or Stepparent Adoption: Affidavit of Nonpaternity, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(3).
  • If any person whose consent is required is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate must be attached to this Petition.
  • Consent form executed by the minor children, if the children is/are over 12 years of age, Stepparent Adoption: Consent of Adoptee, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(2). The court can excuse filing of this form under certain circumstances.
  • Certified copy of the child(ren)’s birth certificate.
  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.902(d).
  • If applicable, Stepparent Adoption: Motion for Search of the Putative Father Registry, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(a)(6).

These family law forms contain a Final Judgment of Stepparent Adoption, Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.981(b)(2), which the judge may use.

You should check with the clerk, family law intake staff, or judicial assistant to see if you need to bring a final judgment form with you to the hearing.

If so, you should type or print the heading, including the circuit, county case number, division, and the children’s names, and leave the rest blank for the judge to complete at your hearing.

You should decide how many certified copies of the final judgment you will need and be prepared to obtain them after the hearing. There is a charge for certified copies, and the clerk can tell you how much.

The file will be sealed after the final hearing, and then it will take an order from a judge to open the file and obtain a copy of the final judgment.

AN ADOPTIVE STEPPARENT WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE PARENTAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING VISITATION AND CUSTODY, WHERE APPROPRIATE, IN THE EVENT OF A LATER DIVORCE, AND MAY BE LIABLE FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN THE EVENT OF A LATER DIVORCE. YOU COULD BE LIABLE IN LITIGATION FOR THE ACTIONS OF THE ADOPTEE(S). THIS ADOPTION MAY ALSO AFFECT THE ADOPTEE’S INHERITANCE.


Self Help Guides


Florida Adoptions
Grandparent, Stepparent & Family Adoptions in Florida

The Self Help Guides' Florida Family Adoptions includes updated information, new custom forms, and the processes & procedures you will need to adopt an extended family member in Florida.

Suitable for Grandparents, Stepparents, Aunts & Uncles, and Cousins who would like to adopt a child or children related by blood.

This self help guide includes interactive forms, sample adoption petitions, and instructions on how to successfully complete a Family Adoption in Florida.

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