Can Stepparents Legally Adopt Stepchildren?

In some cases, stepparents may wish to take the next step in making their new relationship with their stepchildren legal. Florida allows stepparents to adopt their stepchildren under certain circumstances if it is in the best interest of the child.

The first step any stepparent seeking to adopt his or her stepchildren must take is seeking consent from the noncustodial parent. When that parent is uninvolved and absent from his or her biological children’s lives, this consent may be easy to acquire. It involves terminating that parent’s rights, but also his or her obligations, including financial ones. Absent parents are sometimes willing to terminate these responsibilities and will offer consent to allow a stepparent to adopt his or her stepchildren.

If, however, that parent is unwilling to offer consent, the stepparent must then petition the court to terminate the parent’s rights. This is an extreme step and a court will only intervene under specific circumstances. To terminate the parental rights of the noncustodial parent, a stepparent must show that that parent has abandoned his or her children for a continuous and lengthy period of time, usually consisting of approximately a year. This abandonment must be both physical as well as demonstrated through a lack of contact.

Adoption can be a long and difficult process, but it is also a rewarding one. A stepparent who has legally adopted his or her stepchildren has all of the rights of a legal parent. If you are interested in adopting stepchildren in Florida, work with the family law attorneys at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras for the guidance you need.

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