By DeLand Adoption Attorney Richard “Jake” Jackson
Florida law has a simplified procedure for a Relative Adoption, similar to a Step-Parent Adoption. Generally, with a Relative Adoption you do not need a Home Study; you are not required to file a sworn statement itemizing the costs and fees incurred for the adoption; and you are able to file one Petition to handle both the termination of parental rights and the finalization of the adoption, rather than having to file two separate proceedings.Typically, the time that it takes to complete a Relative Adoption or a Step-Parent Adoption in Florida is much less than a standard non-relative adoption. In addition, the expense of a Florida Relative Adoption or Step-Parent Adoption is usually much less than the cost of a non-relative adoption.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO FILE FOR A RELATIVE ADOPTION? For purposes of a Relative Adoption, a “Relative” is defined as “a person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity.” [Florida Statute section 63.032(16)] A Grandparent, Great-Grandparent, Aunt, Uncle, Brother, Sister, Niece, or Nephew would qualify. More distant relatives do not qualify for a Relative Adoption, so they would have to follow the same procedures as a person who is not related to the child.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A FLORIDA RELATIVE ADOPTION AND A FLORIDA STEP-PARENT ADOPTION? A Step-Parent Adoption generally only terminates the parental rights of one of the parents: the rights of the parent who is married to the Petitioner remain intact. In a Relative Adoption, normally the rights of both of the child’s parents are terminated. Another difference is that the federal adoption tax credit for qualified adoption expenses does not apply in a Step-Parent Adoption, but it does apply in a Relative Adoption.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL EFFECT OF A RELATIVE ADOPTION? The relatives who adopt the child become the child’s parents. Normally, when a birth parent’s rights are terminated in an adoption, the birth parents legally become strangers to the child. However, since the child becomes the child of a relative, the child will become a relative (although no longer the child) of one of the birth parents. For example, if the birth mother’s parents adopt the child, the birth mother would then legally become the child’s sister because they now have the same parents; but the birth father would no longer be legally related to the child.
As a Florida adoption attorney, Jake Jackson is committed to the highest level of ethics and professionalism when serving the needs of birth parents and adoptive families. If you have questions about adoptions in Florida, please call us at (386) 738-1111 for a free consultation.