Bringing children from a previous relationship into your new marriage is fairly common in today’s society. It is also common, for the step parent to build a bond and connection with the child that may even surpass the child’s relationship with their own biological parent. In certain cases, stepparents desire to formally adopt their spouse’s child in order to gain legal rights as a parent. This is known as stepparent adoption, and is the most common form of adoption. However, this can be a complicated process and it is important to know the ramifications of these impactful decisions. Discuss stepparent adoption, and your specific situation with an experienced Florida Child Custody Attorney and gather more information on the implications of a finalized stepparent adoption.
In order to formally adopt a step child, you must first terminate the existing relationship between the biological parent and the child. To terminate the parental rights of a legal parent, you can seek and receive a Consent and Waiver of parental rights from the parent. This waiver must be done voluntarily, or the parent may bring an action against you to reestablish their parental rights. If you do receive a waiver, the court will terminate the parent’s right to the child upon review of the consent and waiver. However, if the parent does not wish to voluntarily relinquish their rights, you must then request a formal proceeding with the court to terminate the parental rights of the parent. Whether the parent voluntarily waives their rights to a child, or the court formally terminates them, the result is the same. With either a Consent and Waiver or Termination of Parental rights proceeding, “all rights to, custody of, and timesharing with the child” are relinquished by a legal parent. Along with the termination of rights, comes the termination of obligations. Obligations such as care and welfare for the child, as well as financial support in the form of a court ordered child support obligation will be extinguished. Therefore, if a child support order is established in the current custody arrangement between the biological parents, this order will no longer hold weight and the parent will no longer be required to make future child support payments after the date of the termination of their parental rights. However, you may still be entitled to past support payments that were ordered by the court that the parent failed to pay. This is an outstanding obligation that must be fulfilled by the former legal parent.
However, you may also “forgive the vested child support arrearages owed by a parent” if you wish to do so. 63.212 Although, Florida statute prohibits the sale or exchange of anything of value for the custody of a minor child, and forgiveness of owed child support payments may be viewed in that light, the law specifically allows, only in the cases of step parent adoptions, to forgive the past due payments owed by the parent, whose rights are being terminated. Therefore, it is up to you and your partner whether you wish to pursue the payment of these obligated past support payments, but you will not be entitled to any future payments after the date of termination of parental rights.
If you and your spouse are considering step parent adoption, schedule a consultation with a Florida Adoption Attorney. We will be able to discuss the existing child support obligation as well as the stepparent adoption process and results of such a proceeding.
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