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Adoption is a process by which a person becomes the legal parent of someone who is not his or her biological child. It establishes a legally recognized parent-child relationship. If you are unmarried and want to adopt your partner’s child, there are a few important things to understand before proceeding.

Requirements

When an unmarried person adopts their partner’s child, it is called a second-parent adoption. Although second-parent adoptions have been granted in Florida, they are more complicated than a stepparent adoption and may or may not be granted depending on many factors. It is important that you seek out a Florida adoption attorney who can provide you with specific guidance based on your particular situation.

Generally, as long as the child is available for adoption, any adult determined to be a fit parent may adopt the child. When adopting your partner’s child, you typically will need the consent of both biological parents. So, the parent who is not your partner must relinquish their parental rights. The one deviation from this rule is if a biological or legal parent has failed to establish a relationship with the child or has abandoned the child. A Florida adoption attorney can help you determine who must consent to the adoption. Additionally, since you are unmarried, you will need to complete a home study. The cost of a second-parent adoption is a bit more than a stepparent adoption, but it is still considerably less than a traditional private adoption.

Responsibilities

When you adopt your partner’s child, you will have the same parental rights as he or she has. You will also have the same responsibilities to care for the child. This means if you separate from your partner in the future, the child remains your responsibility, and you may have to pay child support. Additionally, the child is eligible to receive inheritance from you.

What About LGBT Couples?

Florida was late to the game, being one of the last states to continue banning same-sex adoption until September 2010 when the ban was deemed unconstitutional. Now home studies are not permitted to take sexual orientation into consideration. So, homosexual couples have the same right to adopt as heterosexual couples. Since the legalization of same-sex marriage, fewer LGBT couples choose second-parent adoption.

Should I Choose Stepparent or Second-Parent Adoption?

This depends on your marital status. Stepparent adoption is quicker, simpler and costs less than second-parent adoption. However, it requires the couple to be legally married. Marriage is not always in the plan; therefore, second-parent adoption may be an alternative for those with no intention to marry.

Are There Any Other Options for Unmarried Couples?

If second-parent adoption is impossible for any reason, you may want to create a written co-parenting or custody agreement. It’s best to have an attorney help with this process to make it as legally binding as possible.

Legal Assistance for Florida Adoption

Adoption of any type is complicated and can be stressful. It’s important to get proper legal guidance. Tammi Driver is a licensed Florida adoption attorney with extensive experience in stepparent and second-parent adoptions. Call today to set up a consultation. 727-800-6681