This is the next post in a series of articles on step-parent adoptions in Melbourne, Florida. The last post provided an overview of the important factors to consider when evaluating adoption. It also emphasized the need to engage a knowledgeable family lawyer to represent your interests. In this article, I will discuss the impact of adoption on the rights and obligations of the step-parent and biological parents. If you are considering a step-parent adoption and need assistance, call my office today to speak to an attorney.
Blended families may decide to pursue adoption by the step-parent for a variety of reasons. For example, if one parent has had little or no involvement with the child, adoption may be in the best interest of the family. It is imperative to understand, however, that once the adoption is finalized, this is a permanent severance of the biological parent’s rights and the adoptive parent will accept all the legal responsibility of a natural parent going forward.
Regardless of the reasons behind the decision, it is important for all parties to understand that once finalized, an adoption is a permanent change in legal status. The adoptive parent will take on the role of the biological parent in the eyes of the law. This means that he will be equally responsible for the care and support of the child once the process is complete. These obligations will not be severed by a divorce. That is, if the natural mother and stepfather get divorced following an adoption, the stepfather will be equally responsible for supporting the child financially. This may include an obligation to pay child support, medical expenses, or other financial obligations. In addition, the step-parent will have visitation rights with the adopted child following a divorce.
Parents who fail to appreciate the permanence of step-parent adoptions often seem shocked by the consequences of the decision in the context of subsequent divorces. For instance, a step-father decides to adopt his wife’s two year old daughter. The couple decides to divorce just one year later. The step-father may be surprised to learn he will be required to pay child support until the child reaches the age of 18. The child’s mother may also be surprised that she must now share custody of the child with the step-father. The permanent change in legal status caused by the adoption will not be undone by the divorce nor will the brief period of time between the adoption and the divorce have any impact in a court’s custody and support determinations.
Adopting a child is a life-changing decision. It is essential to understand the potential impact on your rights and responsibilities in the future. A knowledgeable family law attorney can explain the legal consequences of adoption and help you navigate the legal process. I am experienced in family law matters and ready to assist you. My office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.