Why Adopt an Adult in Florida?
Adult Adoption Is Possible in Brevard County and Other Areas
By: Bonnie Klein Rhoden, Esquire
Most adoptions involve one or two adults adopting a minor child. These are the more traditional types of adoption: step-parent adoption, grandparent adoption of grandchildren, other family adopting (aunts, uncles), siblings adoption minor sisters and brothers, and the non-biological or stranger adoption. The laws in Florida allow an adult person to adopt another person who is 18 years old or older. All the adults involved must have the capacity to agree and formally agree to the adoption. If you are like many people living in this area you are now asking, “Why would someone adopt an adult?” Here are some common reasons for adult adoption in Brevard County and around Florida along with some explanations and advice for those considering the adoption of an adult.
Reason Number One: To Memorialize An Existing Parent-Child Relationship
In situations where a family member or a non-biological person has cared for a child sometimes the parties want to make it official and “be one of the Jones family members.” This type of recognition is normal and through the adoption of an adult process in Florida the relationship can be formalized. This is a common event between a foster child and foster parents (it is simply just easier to adopt the child after his/her 18th birthday than to process an adoption through the Dependency Court system). It is also common for a step-parent to adopt a step-child as an adult (also easier because consent is not necessary from the biological parent).
Reason Number Two: So You Can Pass Assets to the Adult Child
Estate planning can be very easy for those persons who want to pass assets to lineal descendants. A homestead home can pass to legal lineal descendants such as children without creditors intervening in the transfer and sometimes without a need for probate of the residential asset. Other assets can pass more easily to children than to biological strangers. Adult adoption is one way to make legal the relationship and create for the adoptee the same rights as any other child or lineal descendent of the adopting party. This type of succession is governed by a person’s Last Will and Testament and/or Florida Statute §732.
Reason Number Three: In Order to Provide Care for an Adult Person
If an adult has less than full capacity or, in some cases, has no significant capacity to care for him/herself there are ways to help provide for that at-risk adult. Adult adoption is an option for consideration. If the adopting parent has benefits available to his/her children such as long term care, health, vision, in patient then adopting the adult can extend those benefits. By adopting an adult the adopter has many options to provide for ongoing care and comfort of such an at risk adult – the formalization of the parent/child relationship comes with many benefits.
What Role Does Adult Adoption Play for Our Clients?
Each client has his or her own specific reasons for pursuing an adult adoption. Here are some hypothetical examples of cases our experienced adoption lawyers handle.
- A step-father desired to formalize his relationship with his wife’s three children. He had been the functioning father to the kids for eleven years. The biological father refused to consent to the adoption and there was no evidence to forcibly terminate his parental rights. The step-father and the kids consented to the adoption when the youngest child turned 18. No need for consent from the biological father was all they needed to make the family unit official.
- The parent or adopter did not meet the adopted child until the child was 22. Through the processes of mentoring an emotional relationship developed and the older person (57 at the time) wanted to give the adult child the benefits of his military retirement and pass assets upon his death. Both the adult and the adult child consented and the adoption was completed. The gentleman adopter was a generous and compassionate community member and the adult child has gone on to college and is working on a graduate degree after making his adopted father a grandfather!
- The biological aunt and her husband raised the children of her sister from the time they were infants. The sister (biological mom) passed away when the children were teenagers and the biological father had not been involved since the youngest child was born. The family decided to formalize the relationship of parent and child using adult adoption. No consent was necessary from the biological father and even though no one knew where the father was specifically the family was able to serve Notice upon him using the alternative method of publication. A happy ending to an adult adoption story.
- Because the process of adult adoption is (typically) faster and less adversarial it is also significantly less costly to the family.
Here’s What You Need to Consider Before an Adult Adoption
After the adoption of an adult is completed there are some significant changes you should consider including: the formal relationship between the former parents and child is permanently cut and legally the adopting parents accept the child “as if born unto themselves.”, a name change is often part of the adoption process which may require applications for birth certificates/driver licenses/social security cards and the like, and the new birth certificate can be requested showing the names of the new, adopting parent(s).
What You Need In A Florida Adult Adoption
- The person to be adopted must be an adult – either over the age of 18 or otherwise free from the disability of a minor age;
- All parties must give consent to the adoption – this does not include the biological parents (only Notice is required to the biological parents, if living);
- Any adoptee that is married must obtain the consent of his/her spouse or obtain a waiver of this requirement from the Judge.
- Certified originals of the adoptees’ birth certificates, certified originals of the death certificates of a biological parent who predeceased, certified original of the marriage certificate of adopting couple, and other documents upon request by the court or the attorney.
Is Your Family Considering an Adult Adoption?
The experienced attorneys at Rhoden Law Group can assist you and your family with questions about adoption, adult adoptions, and the related fields of estate planning, dependency court, and general family law. Use the contact form or call the office to speak to an adoption lawyers: Office 321-549-3162 call or text. You can reach the author of this article, Attorney Bonnie Rhoden, directly by email or through the office number.