This is the next post in my series on step-parent adoptions in Melbourne, Florida. My last post discussed the impact of the legal change in custody on the biological parents and adoptive parent. Adoption permanently impacts the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved once finalized. This post will examine the adoption process when a birth parent consents to terminating his or her parental rights. The laws and procedures governing the process can be complicated. Engaging a family law attorney with experience in these matters can help you avoid mistakes that may delay the adoption. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Before an adoption can be granted, a family court judge must terminate the rights of the biological parent. In some cases, the court may terminate a birth parent’s rights over his or her objections or following a failure to respond to the petition to terminate their rights. This may lead to a lengthy legal process. In many cases, however, the biological parent is willing to voluntarily terminate his or her rights. When the parent consents, the process to finalize the adoption can move fairly quickly.
When the birth parent consents, the parties will file a Consent Decree along with a Petition for Adoption. The court will then schedule an uncontested hearing date. The biological parents, the step-parent and, if deemed mature enough to participate, the child or children being adopted will attend the hearing. The judge will ascertain whether the various parties understand their rights and obligations and whether they are in favor of proceeding with the adoption. If satisfied, the court will issue its final order approving the adoption at the conclusion of the hearing.
In addition to the legal process, parents should consider a few practical matters. If a child is changing his or her last name or if revising the child’s birth certificate, the parents should contact the appropriate vital records offices. Contacting schools, day care centers, pediatricians and other caregivers to share the new guardian’s information will also be important. It may be necessary to provide a copy of the adoption order to clarify the adoptive parent’s rights to make decisions related to the child. It is also advisable to carry a copy of the order to avoid confusion in case of a medical emergency where consent to treatment is required.
As in any legal proceeding, failing to comply with the specific legal requirements in an adoption case may lead to delays or other obstacles. Retaining a family law attorney with experience in step-parent adoptions can help parents navigate the process. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with an adoption lawyer. My office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.