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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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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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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;

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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Pinellas County Seventh Annual Adoption Day Video

Below is a video from ABC Action News which follows one family through Pinellas County’s Seventh Annual Day of Adoption (November 2010):