It is quite commonplace in Florida that after two parties divorce who have children in common, one or both will go on to either remarry or enter into a romantic relationship where they reside with a new person. At some point, one of the former spouses may decide with his or her new spouse to seek a stepparent adoption which is governed by Chapter 63, Florida Statutes.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have found that mediating a stepparent adoption can result in significant consequences because in order for a stepparent adoption to be granted results a biological parent is required to consent to consenting to a termination of his or her parental rights. After which, the non-biological parent is provided a Florida Final Judgment of Adoption by Family Law Judge that provides all legal rights to the child(ren) as if he or she was the biological parent. This means that legally it will appear as if the child was born to the natural parent and the stepparent; and the child’s birth certificate will be amended by the Department of Vital Statistics to reflect the names of both the natural parent and the stepparent.
Therefore, during the mediation our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators need to make sure that all parties understand the ramifications of a stepparent adoption to each of them. The biological parent needs to understand that the other natural parent is no longer responsible for child support and other support obligations such as healthcare insurance and daycare costs – and also that if the new marriage fails, the stepparent could be awarded the majority of time-sharing with his or her non-biological child. In addition, if the new marriage does fail, the stepparent could be responsible to pay child support for his or her non-biological parent. As stated above, once the family law court grants a stepparent adoption, the other biological parent no longer has any parental rights and responsibilities with respect to the child.
At Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc., we have seen situations where the parties negotiate some sort of time-sharing schedule for biological parent who is giving up parental rights and/or to the child’s biological grandparents.
The first step to being able to adopt your stepchild is that you must be married to the child’s mother or father. Once it is established that the stepparent is married to the biological parent, it must be proven that the stepparent has established a parent/child bond and is able to provide financial support to the stepchild.
If the stepchild is over the age of 12, he or she must consent to the adoption by executing a “Consent of Adoptee” form – so this form needs to be executed prior to the mediation because it would be inappropriate to involve the stepchild in a mediation.
If you desire to file for a stepparent adoption, but the biological parent won’t consent, you may want to consider mediating the issues with our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc.