Tampa Adoption Attorney
Many Florida family law proceedings, such as a divorce, mark the end of a relationship, at least to some extent. But adoptions are usually all about new beginnings. These proceedings are usually exciting times for families, lawyers, and judges. Sometimes, there may even be a small party in the courtroom after the final hearing. However, this euphoria quickly dissipates if the attorney does not handle the proceeding properly. If all parties to not properly waive all rights, the adoption can come crashing down from both a legal and emotional standpoint. So, experience counts in adoption matters. That’s why you need the experienced Tampa adoption attorneys from HD Law Partners on your side. We provide legal and emotional support in all three phases of a Florida adoption.
Step One: Consent
In a few cases, the natural parent’s rights have already been legally terminated for some reason. But in most cases, both the mother and father must relinquish their parental rights to the baby. That relinquishment must take place after the baby is born. Any assurances or agreements made before that time are completely unenforceable.
A last-minute change of heart is always a possibility. To lessen that likelihood, we usually recommend that the birth mother be part of the adoptive family. There are very strict rules as to how much financial support an adoptive family can provide. In Florida, an adoptive family can provide for a mother throughout the pregnancy and for up to six weeks postpartum. Such provisions include both medical expenses and reasonable living expenses.
Step Two: Social Study
In Tampa, a licensed social worker usually prepares this nonbinding report. Using a combination of personal interviews and background checks, the social worker looks into areas like:
- Family and marital stability,
- Professional obligations,
- Criminal history, and
- Overall physical and mental health.
Many times, the social investigator also serves as an educator who shares additional details about the process with the adoptive family. In other words, many social studies are not as adversarial as they used to be. Under current law, only single people or heterosexual married couples may adopt a child in Florida.
Step Three: The Hearing
After all this groundwork is laid, a Hillsborough County will hold a hearing to determine if adoption is in the best interests of the child. Like most other litigation areas, this court process has several components:
Notice: Anyone who has any legal interest in the case must receive written notice. If the father’s identity is unknown or uncertain, we normally work with a private investigator to determine his identity and location. Giving the father personal notice is the best way to avoid problems in this area later.
Petition: This document must be in the correct legal format. Perhaps most importantly, it must have the birth parent’s consent to adoption, if available. In Florida, that consent must be signed by two witnesses and Notarized.
Order: As mentioned earlier, the adoption study is only a recommendation. An attorney can challenge adverse findings and the judge has the final decision.
If an attorney diligently works through all three of these steps, even the most complex adoptions are almost impossible to overturn later.
Rely On Experienced Tampa Adoption Attorneys
Don’t let poor advice or representation ruin what should be a joyful time for you and your family. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Tampa, contact HD Law Partners. We have three offices in the state.