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Stepparent Adoption Article

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | Jul 16, 2006 | 0 Comments

The Online Lawyer, Travis Robbins, recently published the following article on step-parent adoption at his excellent blog:
I have wanted to post about this subject for quite some time but have not done so until now. My main concern has been disclosing too much personal information about a family that I have become very close friends with. I have decided to go ahead and post an article on the topic but leave out many of the salient personal facts I usually include in my posts. That being said, consider the following:
I know a loving family made up of both natural and step parents and children. The children (both natural and step) are close friends. You cannot tell based on observing the interaction between the parents and children which parent is the natural parent of which children.
About a year and a half ago the stepfather of three of the children wanted to adopt them. I was informed that the children's natural father was willing to agree to the adoption (for reasons I will not discuss). The family contacted me about drafting the paperwork for the adoption. In doing so, I found that the stepparent adoption process is unique in a number of respects from a regular adoption.
Natural Parent Consent and Waiver
In most states all legal paperwork for adoption must be filed by an attorney. After the family contacted me about the stepparent adoption, the first step I took was to contact the natural father of the children to be adopted. I wrote the natural father a letter and enclosed a form consenting to the adoption. The form identified the children to be adopted and included the statement “I relinquish all rights to and custody of these three (3) minor children with full knowledge of the legal effect of the adoption and consent to the adoption by [John Doe]. In Florida, there is additional language that must also be included in the form. I will make the form available at some future date. The natural father signed the form and returned it to my office.
Consent of Adoptee
In most states if children are over a certain age they must consent to the adoption by the stepparent. In Florida, that age is 12. As one of the children was over twelve years old when the adoption occurred I drafted a Consent of Adoptee form which she signed. The form is basically an affidavit stating, among other things, that she was 12 years of age or older and consented to the adoption. The affidavit also states that she was aware that she would then become the adopting parent's legal child and heir at law. She also consented to change her last name to that of her adopting father.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit
Most states require the adopting stepparent to complete and sign an affidavit identifying the children to be adopted and stating whether the adopting parent has other adopted children. The affidavit also acknowledges the duty of the adopting parent to inform the Court of any custody, visitation, child support, or guardianship proceeding (including dissolution of marriage, separate maintenance, child neglect, or dependency) concerning the children in any state. This affidavit is called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Affidavit. The adopting father signed the affidavit.
Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent
Once the affidavits and aforementioned forms were executed, I filed them with the Court along with a Joint Petition for Adoption by Stepparent. The petition was filed on behalf of both the adopting father and natural mother. Less than one month after all of the forms were completed and filed with the Court, the Court held a brief hearing (more to give advice to the children and adopting parent than anything else) and issued a Final Order of Adoption.
Source: “Family Law: Stepparent Adoption” published by Travis Robbins at The Online Lawyerblog.

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J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


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