Laws and Requirements of Adopting in Florida
Like every other state, Florida has its own laws and requirements for adopting a child. If you live in Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Sarasota or anywhere else in the Sunshine state, read the following Florida adoption laws to ensure you are legally prepared to adopt a child or place a child for adoption.
Florida Adoption Laws for Adoptive Families
Who can adopt a child in Florida – A husband and wife jointly; an unmarried adult; or a married individual may adopt in a stepparent adoption or if the spouse’s failure to jointly adopt is excused by the court.
What are the age limits to adopt a child – Florida law does not prohibit anyone from adopting a child based on age.
Can same-sex couples adopt in Florida – As of September 22, 2010, Florida adoption laws that prohibited same-sex couples from adopting was ruled unconstitutional and they may now adopt.
How can I become a foster parent in Florida – To be approved as a foster parent and potentially adopt a foster child, an individual must complete orientation and 20 to 30 hours of foster parent training; and complete a home study, including background checks, a home inspection, interviews, and more.
Can I advertise to expecting mothers considering adoption – Florida law prohibits individuals from advertising for prospective birth mothers, including online advertising and newspaper advertising. Licensed child-placing agencies are permitted to advertise for prospective families, however.
Can we cover the birth mother’s expenses – Adoptive parents are allowed to pay for many of the birth mother’s expenses, including:
- Reasonable living expenses, such as rent, transportation, groceries, utilities and more
- Medical expenses
- Legal fees
- Counseling fees
The court’s approval is required when legal fees exceed $5,000; living and medical expenses exceed $5,000; or court costs exceed $800.
Florida Adoption Laws for Birth Parents
When do I consent to the adoption – A birth mother may legally consent to the adoption and terminate her parental rights 48 hours after the birth of the baby or when she is released from the hospital. A birth father’s rights may be terminated at any time after the birth of the baby.
Can a minor consent to an adoption of his or her child – Minors are permitted to legally consent to an adoption. Minors 14 years old or younger must include a parent, legal guardian or court-appointed guardian as a witness.
Can I change my mind about consent – Consent can only be revoked if the court finds it was obtained by fraud or while under duress; or children who were 6 months old or older at time of consent have a 3-day revocation period.
* What are my rights as the birth father – In Florida, a man must execute written consent to an adoption of the child if:
- The child was conceived or born while he was married to the mother
- The child is his by adoption
- The child has been established by court proceedings to be his child
- He has filed an affidavit of paternity or is listed on the child’s birth certificate before a petition for termination of parental rights is filed
- He has acknowledged in writing, signed in the presence of a competent witness, that he is the father and has filed this acknowledgment with the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health within the required timeframes.
A court may waive the consent of the father if:
- He has deserted a child without means of identification or has abandoned a child
- His parental rights have been terminated by court order
- He has been judicially declared incompetent, and restoration of competency is medically improbably
Florida’s putative father registry preserves the right to notice and consent to adoption for individuals who are or may be the biological father of a child whose paternity has not been established and whose mother was unmarried when the child was conceived and born.
To protect his right to notice and consent to adoption, the unmarried biological father must file a notarized claim of paternity form with the registry and confirm his willingness and intent to support the child. The claim of paternity may be filed any time prior to the child’s birth but must be filed before a petition is filed for termination of parental rights. The failure of an unmarried biological father to file a claim of paternity before the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights bars him from filing a paternity claim. By filing a claim of paternity, the registrant agrees to DNA testing upon request.
A registrant can revoke his claim of paternity with the registry at any time prior to the birth of the child. If a court determines that the registrant is not the father of the child or has no parental rights, the court will order the removal of his name from the registry.