The Tampa Bay Times recently ran a story about the Gift of Adoption Fund. Gift of Adoption Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization with a chapter in Florida that helps prospective adoptive parents in need defray some of the costs of adoption.
You can find portions of the Tampa Bay Times story below.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state must give full faith and credit to a judgment granting a second parent adoption issued by a court of competent jurisdiction of another state.
A second parent adoption is similar to a stepparent adoption, where one spouse adopts the other spouse’s child, except that the petitioner in a second parent adoption is not married to the child’s legal parent. Second parent adoptions were most closely associated with same-sex partners as, until recently, same-sex marriages were not permitted or recognized in Florida and around the country.
In the case, V.L. v. E.L., 577 U.S. ___ (2016), two women, E.L. and V.L. were in a relationship from 1995 until 2011. About seven years into the relationship, E.L. became pregnant via assisted reproductive technology and gave birth to a child (and a couple of years later, to twins). The women raised the children as co-parents.
Sixth Circuit Unified Family Court Judge William R. Webb enjoyed his last day on the bench granting adoptions. From the Tampa Tribune:
NEW PORT RICHEY – He just as easily could have spent the day romping with his 2½-year-old grandson or reading the novel he never had time to open while serving as a circuit court judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.
Instead, Judge William Webb, 67, spent New Year’s Eve, the first day of his retirement, at the Pasco County Courthouse — officiating at the adoption of a group of children he had shepherded through the court system.
Floridians know about child adoption, but many do not realize that adults may be adopted as well. Whether you have an adult step child, adult foster child, adult relative, or other person, Florida courts generally will grant adult adoptions so long the adoptee is younger than the prospective adoptive parent. Florida courts have even granted adult adoptions that were explicitly for tax planning and estate planning purposes.
A former client of mine whom I recently helped in an adult adoption wrote a review of her experience on Avvo.com. FLORIDA BAR DISCLAIMER: Please note that every case is different, and you may not receive the same or similar results.
You can see the review after the jump:
There is now a new reason for adult foster children to consider formalizing their relationship via a Florida adoption: health insurance coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare.
Though the law has been highly controversial and plagued with technological and political missteps, one portion of the law that has received near-universal praise is the ability for parents to cover their children up to the age of 26. Unfortunately, adult foster children may not be eligible for this benefit. But there is a solution.
Section 63.042(1) of the Florida Statutes permits any person, a minor or an adult, to be adopted. Florida law also has an expedited process so that an adult adoption can be accomplished much more quickly than most adoptions of children.
When clients come to me and ask about the effects of Florida adult adoption, one subject that often comes up is how an adult adoptee will be treated for purposes of inheritance and the laws of intestacy. Florida estate planning attorney Barry Haimo discusses this subject in a recent blog article:
Florida law provides for adopted children to be included in the definition of descendant for purposes of the laws of intestacy. Most documents provide similar language to ensure that adopted children are treated as children for inheritance purposes…
The issue presented here is that neither the law nor documents generally provide a limitation on adoption for purposes of class gifts. Should there be age limitations? Timing limitations (such as when the order is entered)? In this regard, we’re really focusing on adult adoption…
I have previously written about the adoption case of Baby Veronica. In this case, a South Carolina court ordered a child to be taken from her prospective adoptive parents’ home and to be placed in her biological father’s home even though the father had abandoned the child and consented to the adoption. The court’s logic was that, because the child’s father was a member of the Cherokee tribe – and so Baby Veronica was a member of the Cherokee tribe – the Indian Child Welfare Act (“ICWA”) applied. Accordingly, the South Carolina trial court concluded, the prospective adoptive parents failed to prove that the adoption (i) was both in the child’s best interests and (ii) did not infringe on the rights of the Indian tribe. The South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision.
I wrote in July 2012 that the South Carolina Supreme Court should not have applied the ICWA because the father had abandoned the child, voluntarily waived his parental rights, and consented to the adoption. I also wrote that the case likely would have been decided differently by Florida courts.
When people think of adoption, they generally envision an adult adopting a minor child. The adult may be a close relative or stepparent of the child, or not related to the child at all, but this is seen as the norm.
But can an adult adopt another adult? Can a stepparent adopt an adult stepchild?
The unfortunate truth is that current Florida law is not conducive to recognizing the relationships that develop in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families. However, there are steps that Florida and Tampa Bay LGBT parents can take to boost the recognition of their parental rights.
If LGBT parents are committed to raising a child together and recognizing each parent’s rights, I highly recommend that partners consider adopting each other’s children. This helps form an unbreakable legal bond between the children and each partner. Though the law is not completely settled in this area, the judges in Hillsborough County (including Tampa) are granting adoptions by LGBT partners. What’s more, an adoption attorney located in Hillsborough County (such as myself) can help Florida parents come before Hillsborough County judges no matter where in Florida the parents live.
Co-parenting agreements can be great evidence that LGBT partners intend to parent children together. It can boost the argument that “psychological parenting,” or the formation of a parent-like relationship between a child and a non-legal parent, has occurred and make it or more likely that parental rights will be recognized by Florida’s legal system.
Hyphenated or Unified Last Names
A hyphenated or unified last name can go a long way in demonstrating to the Florida legal system that partners intended to raise children together. For example, if partner 1 is named Jones, and partner 2 is named Smith, it would be helpful to have all partners and children’s last names hyphenated or unified, so that everyone has a last name of Jones-Smith, Smith-Jones, Smones, Jith, etc. Florida has laws to aid in legal name changes.
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