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Are you ready to adopt your stepchild?

Stepchild adoption is often the next step in forming a merging family unit. However, in many cases, it is not a decision made lightly. Succeeding in the role of a stepparent is the first step. Then, certain conditions must be met before the adoption will be officially approved.

First things first

When you considered the importance of becoming a stepparent, you may have been concerned about how you would bond with your new family. Unless you were acquainted with your stepchild prior to your marriage and formed a friendship, your new role may have seemed daunting. Friendship can change, of course, when the child realizes that as a stepparent, you will be in charge of his or her life to some extent. Every relationship is different, but if you have been able to establish a bond with your stepchild, a big hurdle is out of the way.

Obtaining consent

If you wish to formally adopt your stepchild, you may need the consent of the other birth parent, also known as the noncustodial parent. This will not be required, however, if parental rights have already been or can be terminated due to neglect, abandonment, being unfit to act as a parent or having failed to pay child support. Otherwise, in giving consent, the birth parent agrees to give up all rights and responsibilities with respect to the child, including child support. Additionally, in the state of Florida, any child over the age of 12 must provide the court with his or her written consent for the adoption.

A good basis for adoption

You have probably succeeded as a stepparent by putting the needs of your stepchild first, by helping wherever possible in the period of adjustment and by doing your part to create new family traditions. Once you and your spouse have done the hard work of melding your family into one cohesive unit, all that remains is for you to adopt your stepchild and make the family unit official.

A family law attorney can help you with the process and provide greater guidance on Florida Statute 63.042, which is the law that addresses the subject of adoption.

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