Terminating Mother's Parental Rights

by Vanessa from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Brevard County

Termination of parental rights to mother who put child up for adoption at birth. Me and my husband have had physical custody of a child he had with another woman prior to our marriage since the mother gave the child up for adoption at birth.

This was in Maryland and we have now moved to Florida and now find it necessary to file for sole custody and have her parental rights terminated (although we were told in Maryland that her putting him up for adoption terminates her rights we now find that may not be true in Florida). What forms do we need to file to get this done?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Vanessa,

It sounds like you and your husband could file a Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption.

The adoption will completely terminate the mother's parental rights.

In Florida, parental rights cannot be voluntarily terminated unless there is an adoption pending.

I don't know how termination of parental rights is handled in Maryland.

The stepparent adoption forms that you need are on the Florida Supreme Court's website, www.flcourts.org. The instructions for the Joint Petition for Stepparent Adoption begins as follows:

When should this form be used?

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:
  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 Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health within the required time-frames, and has complied with the requirements of section 63.062(2)

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