Raising a child is an unbelievably rewarding experience – even if he or she is not biologically related to you. When you are considering adopting the child of your spouse or partner, it can be an exciting and confusing time. What is the process? How long does it take? What can I expect? Knowing how stressful the adoption process can be, here is The Berman Law Group’s guide to five things to know about second-parent adoption.
What is Second-Parent Adoption?
Second-parent adoption is any adoption where an unmarried parent adopts the biological or adoptive child of his or her partner without eliminating the parental rights of the biological parent.
What Do Florida Statutes Say About Second-Parent Adoption?
Prior to 2010, the State of Florida had a ban on homosexual adoption. At the time, Florida was the only state remaining to expressly ban such adoptions. However, in September 2010, the District Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit ruled that the state’s ban was unconstitutional. Home studies are now expressly barred from considering an individual’s sexual orientation, allowing gay and lesbian individuals the same adoption rights as everyone else.
Do Both Parents Have the Same Rights?
Once a second-parent adoption is complete the adopting parent will have the same legal rights to the adopted child as the biological or adopted parent. This allows them the right to make important decisions in the child’s life – as well as equal custody rights – should something occur in their relationship.
What is the Difference Between Second-Parent Adoption and Step-Parent Adoption?
A second-parent adoption is the adoption of the child of an unmarried partner. This differs from step-parent adoption in that step-parent adoption is when you adopt the child of your legal partner. Second-parent adoption is often more complex and expensive than step-parent adoption, as it requires a home study, as well as much more paperwork. While second parent adoption may be more complex, however, it does provide a crucial avenue to adoption for unwed couples.
Should I Choose Step-Parent Adoption or Second-Parent Adoption?
With the legalization of same-sex marriage in the State of Florida, there has been a sizable shift away from second-parent adoption and towards step-parent adoption. This is due to the speediness of step-parent adoption, which requires much fewer complications and is often completed in just one to three months. Step-parent adoption does, however, require a couple to be legally married, which for some may simply not be part of the plan. For those individuals, second-parent adoption remains a viable option to gain legal rights to a child, while remaining un-wed.
Adoption laws in Florida can be quite complex. As a result, it can be extremely daunting for individuals looking to gain protective rights over a child they may consider their own. When considering a second parent adoption, it is critical that you obtain the services of an experienced and expert lawyer, who understands the nuances of Florida’s adoption statutes.
At The Berman Law Group, we have years of experience in LGBT legal services. Our experienced and dedicated South Florida same-sex attorneys will be by your side every step of the way to ensure your adoption process goes as smoothly as possible. Call us today at (800) 375-5555 for a free consultation.