Sarasota Adoption Lawyers
Welcoming a child into the family is no easy undertaking, especially when considering adoption. Aside from ensuring the child gets all the emotional and financial support they need, prospective parents must also contend with a highly-regulated and complex legal process. A finalized adoption can radically impact the life of a child, for better or for worse, which is why adoption laws contain numerous and rigorous requirements and guidelines for adoptive parents.
If you are considering giving your child up for adoption or adopting a child into your family, seek professional legal counsel from experienced family lawyers you can trust. With more than a decade of experience serving families throughout the Sarasota and Manatee Counties, the adoption attorneys at Tobaygo Law are fully prepared to represent you and your family in all matters regarding adoption. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.
Florida’s Adoption Laws
Florida Statute 63.032 defines adoption as “the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock.” Florida law also requires the consent of children who are 12 years and older before finalizing an adoption, unless a court dispenses the requirement.
While adoptive parents are legally responsible for supporting the adopted child, if the case is considered an open adoption, the birth parents may still be entitled to regular visitations and communication with the child. To avoid any potential conflicts of interest between parties, it’s important for adoptive parents to understand which type of adoption is best suited for them.
The Adoption Process
The process to adopt a child can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on multiple controllable and uncontrollable factors. If adopting through an agency, for example, the time prospective parents have to wait to be matched with a child largely depends on their preferences and the agency’s workaround times. Fortunately, the adoption process can be significantly expedited with the help of an adoption lawyer who can represent and advise parents at every stage of the adoption process, including the following.
- Home Study: These are often the most important part of the entire adoption process because they can make or break an adoption. A home study is an independent investigation usually conducted by a social worker or a qualified adoption professional. It involves a series of interviews and home visits intended to evaluate the suitability of the adoptive parents and family.
- Locating A Child: Once parents are approved to adopt, the next step is locating a child who’s available for adoption. This can be done through a licensed adoption agency or by consulting with friends, relatives, or doctors. Alternatively, those interested may also volunteer to be a foster parent through a charity or government organization.
- Court Procedures: All adoptions, regardless of type, must be handled and approved by an adoption court before finalizing. It’s important to note that, in most court proceedings, court judges prioritize the best interests of the child when deciding whether to approve an adoption.
Types Of Adoption
Four types of adoption exist in Florida, each requiring a unique procedure and covering a different circumstance. We can help parents choose the best type of adoption for their needs and take care of all the required legal paperwork.
Entity adoptions involve an adoption agency or an intermediary agent. To ensure a smooth adoption process, we can match you with a licensed adoption agency and help you with all the required legal procedures.
In this type of adoption, the biological parents of the child willingly give up parental rights to the step-parent. In most cases, stepparent adoptions are fairly straightforward, so much so that a home study may not be required.
Close Relative Adoptions
Similar to the stepparent adoptions, close relative adoptions in Florida involve adoption by grandparents, uncles, aunts, and siblings. As long as the child is related to the petitioning relative within the third degree of consanguinity, a home study may not be required.
As opposed to every other type of adoption, under an adult adoption there is no need to get consent from the biological parents. However, a notice of the proceedings may still be required. Adult adoptions are often used for inheritance purposes as well as consolidating family ties.
Do I Need An Adoption Lawyer?
Adoption can be a complex process, with unexpected issues and requirements. Our law firm can assist adoptive parents with terminating parental rights, finalizing an adoption, and expediting an adoption case. Our mission is to help parents understand and use adoption laws to protect their parental rights.
Following a thorough discussion of your parental goals, finances, and family circumstances, we can help determine the best course of action for your family. Legal assistance can also be essential when undertaking special types of adoption, including interstate, international, special-needs, intermediary, and same-sex adoptions.
The process of adoption in Florida is not always affordable. It is not uncommon for parents to face unexpected fees and other court-related expenses. Fortunately, our adoption attorneys can help you avoid unexpected expenses by ensuring all paperwork is successfully filed and completed on time.
Florida Adoptions FAQs
Who Can Adopt?
In Florida, any unmarried adult may adopt. Married adults must adopt alongside their spouse, unless their spouse is the parent of the child under question and consents to the adoption, or a court rules that the failure to join in consent is excused.
Do I Need To Establish Residency To Adopt?
Yes. Home residency (of at least 90 days) is required prior to finalizing an adoption.
How Much Does Adoption Cost?
The costs related to adoption can vary widely depending on the birth mother’s living and medical expenses as well as the type of adoption you wish to pursue. On average, adoptive parents can spend anywhere from $1,000 to $35,000. Additional funding may be available for parents in the form of grants and other government aid.
How Often Does Adoption Fail?
On average, 10 percent of adoptions are disrupted (not finalized) and between 1–3 percent are dissolved (fail after finalization). The most common reason for failure is lack of proper support from the adoptive parents. The best way to avoid a failed adoption is to enlist the help of an experienced lawyer and adoption professional who can ensure parents are matched with who they can fully support.
Do You Work With Same-Sex Couples?
Yes, insofar as the current legislation allows.
What Kind Of Contact Will We Have With The Birth Parents?
Whatever you agree to. The conditions for communication and visitation between birth parents and adoptive parents, as well as the child, are usually determined before the adoption finalizes. Please note, under an open adoption, birth parents typically retain communication and visitation rights with the adopted child.