Florida Court Explains Grounds for Dismissing Adoption Petitions

Many step-parents have loving relationships with their step-children and eventually wish to adopt them. If the biological parents consent to the adoption, the process should be relatively seamless. As demonstrated in a recent Florida case, though, problems can arise if the court has concerns about an adoption agreement’s language. If you want to learn more about step-parent adoption, it is wise to confer with a Miami adoption attorney to evaluate your options.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

It is reported that the stepfather, with the assistance of an adoption entity, sought to adopt his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. The biological father executed a consent form for the adoption, which closely adhered to the language prescribed by Florida Statutes. This consent explicitly stated its irrevocable nature except under circumstances of fraud or duress.

Allegedly, the father simultaneously entered into an Adoption Settlement Agreement with the stepfather and the child’s mother, which aimed to settle all claims regarding the child and outlined provisions for an “open adoption” allowing continued contact between the father and the child. Despite the parties filing necessary documents and complying with court orders to address deficiencies, the trial court, without a hearing, invalidated the consent and dismissed the adoption petition based on concerns about the agreement’s language. The stepfather appealed.

Grounds for Dismissing Adoption Petitions

Upon review, the court ultimately reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. First, the court found that the trial court had erred in invalidating the consent without evidence of fraud or duress, as required by statutory law. The court emphasized that revocation of consent can only occur under specific circumstances, none of which were evident in this case. Moreover, the court highlighted that the trial court’s decision lacked any discussion or finding related to fraud or duress, explaining that a failure to meet certain procedural requirements does not automatically invalidate consent unless it results in a fundamental fairness violation or involves fraud or duress.

The court also criticized the trial court for failing to hold an evidentiary hearing before making a determination on the validity of the consent. In doing so, it stressed the importance of due process and remanded the case for the trial court to conduct an evidentiary hearing with proper notice to all parties involved. The court refrained from making determinations regarding the conditional nature of the consent or the validity of the agreement, leaving those matters for further consideration during the proceedings.

Confer with a Capable Miami Attorney

Parents typically want what is best for their children, which, in some instances, means allowing their step-parent to adopt them. If you want to learn more about step parent adoption, it is wise to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The capable Miami child custody lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can assess your case and advise you of your options for seeking a favorable outcome. You can contact us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to arrange a meeting.

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