Stepparent Adoption Parental Rights
by Jason from Hollywood, Florida, Broward County
I have been raising my wife's son since he was 5 months old. His father has been in jail.
We want to adopt him and give him our last name. There is no father listed on the birth certificate.
What do we need to make this legal?
Answer to Florida Adoption Question
Florida has a straight forward process for Stepparent Adoption. Forms are readily available on the Florida Supreme Court's website.
The basic procedure is that you and your wife file a Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption; along with a Consent and Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights signed and notarized by the biological father.
Since the father is in prison his consent may not be required -- his incarceration may be considered abandonment. However, I suggest that you ask him for consent if possible. And, yes inmates can receive legal documents and can also have documents notarized.
File the father's Consent and Joint Petition with the clerk of court in the circuit where you reside. You and your wife will appear together at the adoption hearing. Providing all of your documents are in order, the judge will likely rule on your adoption right away.
It is also suggested that you bring a proposed Final Order of Adoption with you to court so that the judge can just sign it. This is appreciated by the staff, and some circuits require that you provide the Order.
After the adoption is final, be sure to obtain several certified copies of the Final Order of Adoption. You will need these originals for various agencies such as school, social security office, etc.
You can apply for a new birth certificate through the Florida Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics. After 10 days the court routinely seals adoption records, and you will not be able to obtain another copy of the order without a court order.Notice:
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