ADOPTION FLORIDA

The decision to adopt can be overwhelming without the right advocate by your side. At Family Diplomacy we take the time to answer your questions about the adoption process and determine the best course of action for you and your family. We can help whether you are beginning the adoption process from scratch or seeking to adopt a stepchild, close relative, or adult.

STEPCHILD/STEPPARENT, CLOSE RELATIVE, AND ADULT ADOPTION

If you are seeking to adopt a stepchild, close relative, or adult, Florida law has established an accelerated process to help families like yours. At Family Diplomacy we will walk you through the steps that you can take to ensure that your stepchild, close relative, or adult adoption progresses in a smooth and expedited manner.

SAME-SEX ADOPTIONS AND ADOPTION OPTIONS FOR THE LGBT COMMUNITY

Florida now has adoption options for the LGBT community. You may have questions regarding same-sex adoptions or the possibility to become a second parent to your partner’s children. Family Diplomacy will provide you with an overview of your family rights and tailor a plan for your specific situation.

COLLABORATIVE ADOPTION

If you are considering an open adoption, where a biological parent will continue to have contact with the child even after the adoption is finalize, then Family Diplomacy strongly recommends you consider the Collaborative Adoption Process. In the Collaborative Process, each party is represented by an attorney who is there solely to help the parties reach an agreement on finalizing the adoption and developing a post-adoption visitation plan. A neutral social worker or other professional is retained to help foster a relationship and facilitate communication between all parties.

Baby Veronica Adoption Case Goes To U.S. Supreme Court

In July 2012, I wrote an article on Florida Adoptions and the Indian Child Welfare Act which discussed the case of Baby Veronica.  This is a case in which a biological father who belonged to the Cherokee Indian tribe objected to the adoption of his daughter after he had already signed a consent to the adoption.

In his objection, the biological father cited the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law enacted in the 1970’s which states that, when determining whether and adoption for a child who is a member of an Indian tribe should be granted, the Court must take into consideration not only the best interests of the child, but also the best interests of the Native American tribe.

The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the biological father, but the prospective adoptive parents have appealed the ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case.  Below is a report from CNN:

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A Tampa Adoption Story

Jeff Stidham posted the following Tampa adoption story on the website of Hillsborough County’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit:

Three weeks before their fifth anniversary, Ali and Tonya Muhammad began preparing for a new arrival: a baby boy destined to become one of their own. They welcomed young Marcus on Nov. 5, 2010, three days after his birth. Their anniversary.

And so began a two-year journey toward adoption that concluded Nov. 16 on National Adoption Day, when Marcus, now called Sameer, became part of a “forever family.”

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January 2013 Conference for Florida’s Adoptive Parents and Prospective Adoptive Parents

Florida’s Adoption Information Center is holding a conference on Saturday, January 12, 2013, in Jacksonville, Florida, for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents.

Florida’s Adoption Information Center was “created by the Florida Legislature to serve as a clearinghouse in every area of adoption. The Center has served more than 175,000 people since opening in 1994. As a free service, the Adoption Information Center provides adoption information and referral services to adoptive parents, adult adoptees, birth relatives, pregnant women and professionals.”

Below is the agenda for the conference:

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Video: Same Sex Couple Adopts Child in Florida

The video below from WPTV News showcases a Florida same sex couple who were able to finally and legally expand their family by adopting a foster child for whom they had long looked after:

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

Hillsborough County is a venue that is also friendly towards LGBT families looking to adopt.  Even if you do not live in Hillsborough, you may have your same sex adoption take place in Hillsborough County if you retain an adoption entity located in the county.

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Mandatory Disclosure in Florida Family Law Cases

The Florida Supreme Court provides the following commentary on Mandatory Disclosure in Florida family law cases:

Rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, requires each party in a dissolution of marriage to exchange certain information and documents, and file a Family Law Financial Affidavit, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.902(b) or (c). Failure to make this required disclosure within the time required by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure may allow the court to dismiss the case or to refuse to consider the pleadings of the party failing to comply. This requirement also must be met in other family law cases, except adoptions, simplified dissolutions of marriage, enforcement proceedings, contempt proceedings, and proceedings for injunctions for domestic or repeat violence. The Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932, lists the documents that must be given to the other party. For more information see rule 12.285, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, and the instructions to the Certificate of Compliance with Mandatory Disclosure, Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Form 12.932.

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Tampa May Expand Domestic Partnership Recognition

The City of Tampa is considering an ordinance that would recognize domestic partnerships from communities around the United States.  Currently, Tampa only recognizes the rights of those domestic partners who have registered with Tampa’s domestic partnership registry.  According to the Tampa Bay Times:

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

City Council instructed its attorneys to draft an ordinance that would allow Tampa to offer equal protection to couples recognized in domestic partner registries outside the city. Council members had considered creating agreements with surrounding municipal governments to recognize each others’ registries. But seeing as that process that council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said could be “arduous,” the council opted to draft a law allowing Tampa to recognize other registries — regardless of whether those cities reciprocate.

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A draft of an ordinance is scheduled to be reviewed by council members on Sept. 27.

Tampa’s domestic partnership registry is open to couples who are 18 or older, unmarried and not related by blood, who live together and consider each other to be immediate family. Registered domestic partners each have rights historically recognized for immediate relatives: Being notified that a partner has been in an accident, visiting each other in the hospital, making medical decisions for a partner who cannot do so, and making funeral arrangements for each other.

If you would like to learn more about your Florida family law rights, including adoption, child custody, or domestic partnership agreements, schedule a consultation The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our online form.

In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?

Florida law provides a choice as to where prospective parents should file a case for termination of parental rights and adoption.  Generally, the adoption must be filed where (i) the child lives or (ii) the adoption entity, intermediary, or attorney for the prospective parents is located.

Which of these counties is chosen may be a strategic decision…

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Florida Adoptions and the Indian Child Welfare Act

When a potential client comes into my office seeking to learn more information about Florida adoption (whether it be stepparent adoption, close relative adoption, second parent adoption, or non-relative adoption), two questions almost always seem to catch the potential client off guard:

  1. Is the prospective adoptee/child a member of an Indian tribe?
  2. Is the prospective adoptee/child eligible to be a member of an Indian tribe?

If the answer to either of those questions turns out to be yes, then a federal law known as the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) is triggered and special procedures must be observed. In determining whether an adoption should be granted, a court must not only look at the best interests of the child, but also take into consideration the interests of the child’s Indian tribe. Preference for adoption is to be given to the child’s extended family within that tribe over a non-tribe member non-relative.

A recent South Carolina adoption case involved the Indian Child Welfare Act. The following video from CNN discusses this case of “Baby Veronica” and the impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act on her adoption:

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Can I Adopt My Grandchild in Florida?

Do you have a grandchild or other close relative living with you? Do you want to ensure that you have the legal ability to make healthcare, education, and other major decisions for the child? Do you want to legally establish the close relationship that already exists between you and the child?

You may be eligible to adopt your grandchild or other close relative, and fortunately, Florida has expedited procedures in place to facilitate such adoptions.

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Legislative Update: Changes to Florida Statutes Section 63.062 – Persons required to consent to adoption; affidavit of nonpaternity; waiver of venue

Florida recently passed updates to its Adoption statutes, which will go into effect on July 1, 2012. Among other statutes, section 63.062 was amended to clarify when it is necessary to obtain the consent for adoption of unmarried biological fathers and others, and what unmarried biological fathers must do to assert their rights to contest an adoption.

[Related:  In Which County Should I File My Florida Adoption Case?]

Below you will find the updated text of section 63.062 (new language is underlined, while deleted language is stricken):

63.062 Persons required to consent to adoption; affidavit of nonpaternity; waiver of venue.—

(1) Unless supported by one or more of the grounds enumerated under s. 63.089(3), a petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption may be granted only if written consent has been executed as provided in s. 63.082 after the birth of the minor or notice has been served under s. 63.088 to:

(b) The father of the minor, if:

1. The minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother;

2. The minor is his child by adoption;

3. The minor has been adjudicated by the court to be his child before by the date a petition is filed for termination of parental rights is filed;

4. He has filed an affidavit of paternity pursuant to s. 382.013(2)(c) or he is listed on the child’s birth certificate before by the date a petition is filed for termination of parental rights is filed; or

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