Stepparent Adoption Unknown Biological Father

by Stephanie from Riverview, Florida, Hillsborough County

I have been a resident of Florida for almost two (2) years. My daughter was born in Texas.

My husband has been her "father" since she was 2 years old.

I do not know who her biological father is and no one is listed on her birth certificate.


#1- Can a stepparent adoption be done not knowing who her biological father is?

#2- Given the circumstances, can I file the petition myself without hiring an attorney? Thank you in advance for your help!

Answer to Florida Adoption Question

Dear Stephanie,

Yes, it is possible to complete a stepparent adoption without knowing the identity of the child's biological father. And it is also possible to prepare the paperwork yourself. It is possible, but it may not be simple.

Your biggest hurdle is that you must convince the judge that you honestly do not know the identity of the biological father. If you have any information about the biological father, the best thing to do is to search for him.

There is a process/form called an Affidavit of Diligent Search which is available on the Florida Supreme Court's website. It is a list of places for you to search for him.

And then if you cannot locate him through this search, you may be able to serve him through constructive service. Constructive service is serving someone through publication – advertising a legal intent. In this case the legal intent is for your husband to adopt your child.

However, if you don't have any information at all about the biological father, state that fact on your Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption form. Since the biological father has never had contact or a relationship with your child, the judge may decide that the biological father has abandoned the child, and no notice to him or service of process is necessary.

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 Unknown Biological Father

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Adoption of My wife's son, Father is Deceased
by: Shelby from Ruskin, Florida

I recently got married and my wife has a child (boy) whose father passed away when he was just over a year old, he is five years old now. I want to adopt him, what do I need to do? What forms do I need to fill out? Please advise.

--Follow the instructions on the Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent, Form 12.981(b)(1) where you will find a list of the required forms. Since the biological father is deceased, you will need to explain that his consent was not obtained because he is deceased. See line 10 of the joint petition. Also have a look at this related FAQ page for more information... Consent to Adoption From Absent Father --Staff

Emergency Stepparent Adoption & Unable to Locate Biological Father
by: Kellei from Lakeland, Florida, Polk County

My ex-husband and I divorced shortly after our son was born. He did not show for Court, so the judge stated he had no visitation rights until he completed his courses and Petitioned the Court. To this date, he still has not complied and I have also never received child support. My son is 6 years old now and my ex-husband, his biological father, has not spoken to or seen him since before he was 2 years old.

My current husband and I started dating soon after that and now we are married. We were trying to do this adoption for the last year or two, but we have run into red tape everywhere because we are unable to find my ex-husband. Last week I was diagnosed with a form of carcinoma and I am getting ready to have surgery and treatment. Is there anything to be done on an emergency basis to make sure my son is covered. My son has never known another father. Please help.

--I am so sorry to hear of your medical condition; and also that you have spent so long trying to accomplish a relatively simple legal task. I know it is difficult to find answers when the court clerks aren't allowed to offer any help. There are Florida Supreme Court approved forms for stepparent adoption, which are free downloads on the Supreme Court's site. I'm sure the difficulty that you are experiencing is because you do not have an address for the biological father.

There is a way through it, however. You can try and locate him, and show the court that you have tried. The form that you base your search upon, and that you present to the clerk of court is called an Affidavit of Diligent Search. There are around 20 places and ways listed on the form, where you can search. After you have searched, and not found him, you can then request that he be served by constructive service, which is service of process by publication.

If he does not respond after a period of time, then you can request a hearing for the adoption. Or, you may be able to file the Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption and state that the biological father has abandoned his son; and that your medical condition requires that the adoption be expedited. --Staff

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