Do I need a home study for a Stepparent Adoption?

No.  Homes studies are not required for step parent adoptions, relative adoptions and adult adoptions.   This usually speeds up the adoption process and makes the overall adoption process more affordable for most families.

What legal rights does a step parent have?

In Florida, only biological parents and adoptive parents have legally recognized parental rights over a minor child.   This becomes significant for many families today as step fathers and step mothers who have not adopted their spouse’s child, do not and will not have any custodial or parental rights over the child.   This is so even if the step parent has acted as a “de facto parent” by raising the child, provided emotional support, financial support, medical care, and has created a parent-child bond.  However, once a step parent adoption is finalized by a court, the step parent will equally share all parental rights and assume all parental responsibilities with the biological parent, permanently, as if the child were born to the step parent.

Does a stepparent adoption terminate a biological parent’s rights?

 Yes.  Once the court enters a final judgment of adoption by step parent, the parental rights of the uninvolved biological parent terminate automatically.  In Florida, the step parent process is streamlined so that there only needs to be one hearing for the termination of parental rights and the step parent adoption.

Will the child receive a new birth certificate?

Yes.  The final step to the adoption process is to obtain a new birth certificate from Vital Statistics.  If requested during the adoption and it is approved by the Court, the parent(s) may legally change the child’s name which will be reflected on the new birth certificate.  The adoptive parent(s) names will be reflected on the new birth certificate as well.  Once the adoption has taken place, it usually takes 4-6 weeks to receive a new birth certificate from Vital Statistics.