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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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Rights Recognized in Tampa’s Domestic Partnership Registry

As President Obama today expressed his support for gay marriage, the State of Florida continues to define marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman,” leaving homosexuals in loving relationships in a state of legal limbo.  Attempting to fill in the gap, many local county and municipal governments are passing “domestic partnership registries” which codify certain rights to heterosexual and homosexual partners.  Tampa, for one, has passed an ordinance creating a domestic partnership registry.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

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

Tampa’s domestic partnership law recognizes the following rights for registered partners (to the extent that these rights are not superseded by other laws or ordinances or by contract):

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A Story of Second Parent Adoption

An article from The Guardian tells the tale of two lesbian partners who went through a second parent adoption:

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

When Patricia Moreno was pregnant with her first child, she went through the usual existential doubts about how life as a new mother would be. Moreno, a life coach and fitness trainer from New York, had been trying to get pregnant for well over a year. She had been through multiple rounds of IVF and suffered a miscarriage. When she did get pregnant, in December 2009, she and her partner, Kellen Mori, were over the moon, and then they started thinking.

The couple’s marriage was not valid outside the US or in many of the more conservative states; the baby, conceived by IVF using Mori’s eggs and donor sperm, would not be recognised federally as belonging to both of them. (Moreno, giving birth, would be recognised as the biological mother. Mori, who had provided the eggs, would have no automatic universal rights.) “I’m not the mum, but I am the mum,” thought Moreno and wondered idly who the baby would identify with more. As well as a good obstetrician, she and her wife of three years would be needing a lawyer.

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Legislative Update: Summary of Changes to Florida’s Adoption Laws

Logo of Florida House of RepresentativesMany bills relating to family law were proposed this past legislative session.  Many, if not most, of the bills died, while some, including House Bill 1163, passed both houses and were signed into law by Governor Scott.  House Bill 1163 (now Chapter 2012-81 of the Laws of Florida) made the following changes to Florida’s adoption laws (as summarized by the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Family, and Elder Affairs):

  • Requires that a petition for termination of parental rights contain facts supporting the allegation that the parents of the child is informed of the availability of private placement of the child with an adoption entity;
  • Removes legislative intent that all placements of minors for adoption be reported to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF or department);
  • Amends certain definitions in ch. 63, F.S.;
  • Exempts adoption proceedings which were initiated under ch. 39, F.S., from the requirement to search the Florida Putative Father Registry if the search was previously completed;
  • Requires the use of an adoption entity for all adoptions of minor children, unless the adoption is by a relative or stepparent;

TMH v. DMT: Florida Appellate Court Recognizes Parental Rights of Both Lesbian Mothers in Case of Fertilized Egg Transplant

Here’s the story:  Two women are in a committed lesbian relationship when they decide to have a child together using reproductive technologies.  One woman (the “Genetic Mother”) supplies the egg and has it fertilized.  That egg is then implanted into her partner (the “Birth Mother”) who gives birth in 2004.

Related:  Five Legal Steps Florida LGBT Parents Should Take

[Related:  In A Florida Child Custody Case, Does It Matter That I Am Gay?]

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

The child is given a hyphenated last name, combining the names of the Birth Mother and Genetic Mother.  Birth announcements are sent out, proclaiming both partners to be mothers of the child.  The partners reside with one another and the child in Florida, and they all live happily ever after.

Until 2006, when the Birth Mother and Genetic Mother break up.

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New York Recognizes Gay Marriage. Do Floridians Have Options?

Beginning July 24, 2011, gay couples in New York will be able to apply for a marriage license.  This will make New York the sixth and largest state to recognize gay marriage.

Florida, unlike New York, does not permit gay marriage, nor does it recognize civil unions.  But there are things that partners can do to symbolize their love for one another and create certain rights and responsibilities.  You just have to be creative.

Let me give you an example.  One of the services that my firm offers is that we represent clients in name change matters.  I have heard all different reasons why a client wants a name change, including that he or she (a) has done some things he or she is not proud of and wants to turn a new leaf, (b) wants to take on the qualities of a religious or historical figure by taking on part of that figure’s name, and (c) simply does not like his or her name.

One day, a young woman came in for a consultation, and she had a touching story to tell me.  She said that she had been dating her partner for several years, and that they wanted to get married.  But, of course, Florida does not permit gay marriage.  However, this woman decided to declare her love and commitment by legally taking on her partner’s last name.  I was able to guide her through the judicial process of symbolically affirming her dedication to her partner through a name change.

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Hillsborough County – New Child Custody Proceedings Administrative Order

Chief Judge Manuel Menendez, Jr., of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County) recently entered a new administrative order that pertains to child custody proceedings.  Below is a summary of AO S-2011-014:

  1. For Chapter 751 Proceedings (Temporary Custody of Minor Children by Extended Family):
    1. Uncontested and Contested Proceedings:  Petitions for temporary custody of a minor child by an extended family member (i.e., grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) must be written and signed under oath, and filed with the clerk of the court.  The case will be assigned to the Family Law/Domestic Relations Division.  An executed Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement (“UCCJEA”) Affidavit must be included with the petition.  If the petition is being filed with the parents’ permission, written, signed, and notarized consents must be provided, unless the parents provide their consents in open court.  If a petitioner is alleging that a parent has abandoned a child, the petitioner must have evidence of abandonment.
    2. Pending Dependency Proceedings:  If a dependency case is pending when a petition for temporary custody has been filed, the Family Law judge may transfer the petition to the Juvenile Dependency Division. Read more

Advantages of a Stepparent Adopton

Florida has provided an expedited process for cases where a spouse seeks to adopt his or her stepchild.  Advantages of a stepparent adoption over the average adoption include the following:

  • Preliminary and final home studies to determine the suitability of intended adoptive parents and whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests are not required (though, in some cases, they may be ordered by a judge);
  • Proceedings for termination of the biological parent’s rights occur at the same time as proceedings for adoption, so an intended adopted parent does not have to wait until a biological parent’s rights are terminated prior to filing a petition for adoption;

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Filing Fees in Pasco County

I previous wrote about filing fees in Hillsborough County and Pinellas County.  In this post I review current filing fees in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pasco County, for common family law matters.  A person who initiates a family law case (the “Petitioner”) will pay the following:

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Filing Fees in Pinellas County

I previous wrote about filing fees in Hillsborough County.  In this post I review current filing fees in the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pinellas County, for common family law matters.  A person who initiates a family law case (the “Petitioner”) will pay the following:

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