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Can I Adopt My Stepchild?

If you have married someone who has a child from a preexisting relationship, chances are that you want to form a bond with that child and play a substantial role in his or her life. Even if you grow close with the child, the marriage alone does not give you the legal right to make important decisions for the child regarding education or health care as a biological parent would have. In addition, if your marriage ends in divorce, you will have no rights to legally pursue custody or even visitation with the child. This means both you and the child could lose an important relationship if the biological parent so chooses.

In order to have full parental rights, a non-biological parent must legally adopt a child. For this reason, many people in the Boca Raton area decide to pursue a stepparent adoption. If successful, stepparent adoptions provide all the benefits of a traditional adoption without many of the requirements under Florida adoption laws, such as a waiting period, interviews and home visits, and other “red tape.” However, there is one specific requirement for a stepparent adoption that can cause complications in your case.

Consent From the Biological Parent

The main requirement for a stepparent adoption is that the biological parent (who is not in the marriage) must consent. Three people cannot have parental rights at the same time. This means that when a stepparent gains parental rights, the biological parent relinquishes them. For this reason, the biological parent must consent to the adoption and giving up their parental rights. This can be complex and one of three situations generally results:

 

  • The parent agrees — Parents do sometimes agree to give up their rights, especially if they do not have a close relationship with the child. Giving up rights also means giving up responsibility, so they would no longer have to pay child support or for other needs of the child.
  • The parent does not respond — If the parent does not respond or cannot be found, the court can still approve the adoption as long as the parent was notified and the adoption is in the best interest of the child.
  • The parent refuses — If the parent refuses, a stepparent can try to claim the parent has abandoned the child if they have not contacted the child or that the parent is not the presumed father.

Call a Committed Boca Raton Family Law Attorney For Assistance

If you are considering adopting your stepchild or if you have any other important family law concerns, you should never hesitate to call a skilled family law lawyer in Boca Raton. Family law matters can be especially difficult if they involve children, so you want an attorney handling your case who can provide the commitment and representation you need for a favorable outcome for your family. Mr. Burton has assisted numerous Florida families with adoptions, paternity actions, custody and visitation disputes, and much more, so please call for a free consultation at 954-220-1660 today.