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

Dear Jason,

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: 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 Stepparent Adoption Parental Rights

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Terminating the Birth Fathers Rights
by: Jose from Jacksonville

Can the Birth mother file to terminate the birth fathers rights? My Son is 5 years old, I started dating his mother when the baby was 6 months old and his birth father has NEVER been in his life.
For the first year he would call once in a while and try to see the kid, but refused to do so once the mother started dating me. He has stopped all contact since, has never paid child support and has never even checked on the boy.

My wife and I just had another baby and I really want to adopt my first Son, I've been in his life as a full time daddy since he was 6 months old. We can't take him out of the country on vacation or anything because we can't get him a passport. I am in great financial situation and so is my wife, the birth father has a felony conviction and does weed and other drugs. Is there anything we can do?

--By filing for stepparent adoption, you may be able to adopt your stepson even without the birth father's consent. It will be much better if you were able to get the birth father's consent. Otherwise, you must show cause according to very specific guidelines. Item 10, on the Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption Form 12.981(b)(1), 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: ________________


Have a look at Florida Statutes section 63.089, titled: Proceeding to terminate parental rights pending adoption; hearing; grounds; dismissal of petition; judgment, and especially sub-section (3) GROUNDS FOR TERMINATING PARENTAL RIGHTS PENDING ADOPTION. From what you've written here, you may be able to show child abandonment. Ultimately, it will be up to the judge to decide. --Staff


Adoption By New Husband
by: L. from Jacksonville, Florida, Duval County

My son is 5 months old and I havent had contact with the biological father since I was 6 moths pregnant. He stated that he wanted nothing to do with the child. I gave my son my last name and the biological father is NOT on the birth certificate.

I am married now and my husband wants to adopt my son. Would I need to get the biological father's rights terminated? Or does he even have any rights to my son? Could we just go and put my husbands name on the birth certificate?

--Florida law allows a fairly simple procedure for Step-parent Adoption. Your son's biological father does not likely have any paternal rights because of his actions -- stating that he wanted nothing to do with your child; having no contact with the child; and leaving the picture when you were six months pregnant.

However, it is likely the best course is to attempt to locate him anyway. The Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption provides for termination of his parental rights within the form and is not a separate filing. That form and other forms that must be filed with the Joint Petition for Step-Parent Adoption. Have a look at our Stepparent Adoptions in Florida page for more information. --Staff

Step Parent Adoption Process
by: Doug from Orlando, Florida, Orange County

How long does it take to process a step parent adoption in Florida? I have signed my rights away, they have put a petition forth, and drew up the final judgement paperwork.

--How big is a house? The answer is: it varies. The length of time the process takes depends on how busy the courthouse is. Many circuits have experienced recent budget cuts, and have cut back on staff and services. Things may not move as quickly as you might like. Be patient, and try to understand the process, and the wait will be much easier. There needs to be a hearing on the adoption.

Providing all of the paperwork is in order – your consent to the adoption; the joint petition for stepparent adoption; and all other required documents, the hearing can be requested by the petitioners. The petitioners should bring with them to the hearing a Final Order of Adoption. --Staff

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