Now that same-sex marriage is recognized in Florida, same-sex legally married couples can go through the process of a step-parent adoption to allow a step-parent to adopt their spouse’s child. Prior to the recognition of same-sex marriage, the couple would have had to go through a more expensive and timely procedure called a “second parent adoption.” When filing a step-parent adoption, the spouse needs to consent to the adoption. We may also require the consents of the absent parent and may require the consent of the child if the child is over the age of 12.
Once the step-parent adoption is finalized, both parents will be equal legal parents of the child, affording them all rights and obligations for any legal parent. It’s very important for a step-parent to go through the process of step parent adoption, because without that, they may face challenges in raising the child. For example, at hospitals or schools, if proper evidence of parentage is required, without the adoption, they may be denied access to the child. Additionally, if something were to happen with the relationship of the couple, the non-parent would have no legal rights to the child, including visitation rights, even if the parents had a co-parenting agreement in place.
Once the step-parent adoption is finalized, legal implications include that the child will then inherit from the step-parent’s estate as if it was their own biological child. Additionally, it may obligate the step-parent to support the child and pay for child support until the child turns the age of 18. However, now that same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex couples that are married can go through the simpler and quicker process of a step-parent adoption to name both parents as the legal parents of the child on their birth certificate.
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