Parents with Judge

This is the next post in my series about stepparent adoptions in Melbourne, Florida. My last post discussed the adoption process when the birth parent consents to the adoption and voluntarily terminates his or her parental rights. In this article, I will discuss the process of adopting a child when the biological parent opposes the adoption. A parent’s opposition may result in a longer and potentially more complicated legal proceeding. It is important to retain an experienced adoption attorney to help you navigate the process. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak to a lawyer.

Terminating one’s parental rights is a life-changing decision. It is not uncommon for a biological parent to initially object to a request to give up his parental rights. When a parent actively opposes the adoption request, that parent will have the opportunity to present evidence to the judge that the termination would not be in the best interest of his child. For obvious reasons, this will add time and legal complexities to the case. In many cases, however, the birth parent and the child have been estranged for a period of time leading up to the adoption request. Often, the estrangement is coupled with birth parent’s failure to meet child support obligations. It is not uncommon to negotiate a settlement releasing a biological parent from the outstanding child support obligation in exchange for his consent to the adoption. Upon obtaining the consent, the parties may proceed with an uncontested hearing as discussed more fully in my previous post. A family law attorney may be able to assist if negotiations with the biological parent are required.

In some circumstances, a birth parent’s consent to an adoption cannot be obtained because his location is unknown. In Florida, a parent seeking an adoption is required to make a diligent search for the biological parent. This includes investigating previous addresses, places of employment, known relatives, utility and tax records, etc. The court requires the filing of an Affidavit of Due Diligence detailing the efforts made to locate and notify the parent. If the parent is still not locatable, Florida law provides for notice by publication in a newspaper. The notice must be published once per week for four consecutive weeks. If the parent does not respond to the published notice, the court will issue a default judgment against the nonresponsive party and grant the termination of his parental rights. From this point forward, the parties will proceed with the adoption as though it is uncontested. It is important to note that under these circumstances, unpaid child support amounts will still be due and are collectible.

Given the specific legal requirements involved when a birth parent does not consent to the termination of parental rights, it is important to retain an attorney. Contact my office today to speak with a Melbourne adoption lawyer. My office also 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.