Adoptions are complicated. However, here are the answers to some common basic questions that clients frequently ask.
Who can adopt?
Any single adult or married couple can file for adoption in Florida. Two people who are unmarried cannot jointly adopt. Additionally, if you are separated from your spouse but have not yet finalized the divorce, your spouse would have to file jointly in the adoption, or you would need to wait for the divorce to be finalized.
Who can be adopted?
Any minor child or adult may be adopted. In order to adopt a minor child, the consent of the parents is required or their rights must have been terminated. However, in order to adopt an adult, the parents need only be notified of the proceedings and hearing - their consent is not required. The parents can certainly attend and voice their objections. Ultimately it is always up to the judge to finalize the adoption and therefore the judge will always hear all parties involved. However, their consent is not required.
What are the requirements?
Chapter 63 of the Florida Statutes deals with the extensive statutory requirements for an adoption. Adoptions are very complex and each case should have an attorney experienced to handle them to ensure the requirements are met in order to avoid the adoption being reversed. For example, some cases require a homestudy on the adoptive parents, some require an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) prior to placement, and many other legal issues that need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. No one should attempt to complete an adoption without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
What are the legal effects?
The most common question is regarding inheritance. Once the adoption is finalized, all legal ties are severed with the biological parents. If there would be an inheritance from the biological parents, the adoptee would no longer be entitled to receive that inheritance. The opposite would also be true of the adoptive parents. The adoptee would now be legally entitled to inherit the same as all other children of the marriage. If the adoptive parents wanted to change the way inheritance would look, they would need to execute a will.
How can I find a law firm to help?
At Family Matters Law Group we handle a variety of adoptions, including adult adoptions, stepparent adoptions, grandparent adoptions, relative adoptions, adoptions with the consent of the parents, and dependency interventions (when the adoptive parent(s) want(s) to adopt a child in the dependency system). Contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your options.