Adopting a step-child is a big step. Not only does it solidify the emotional bond you have with your step-child(ren), it also guarantees your legal rights as their adoptive parent. This means it enables you to participate in decisions involving health care and education as well as carry the weight of other important legal and financial responsibilities.

But what happens when you and your partner – the biological parent of your step-child – decide to divorce?

Parental rights and custody considerations

In Florida divorce cases, adoptive parents have the same legal rights and responsibilities as the biological parent. This extends to time-sharing arrangements, decision making, and financial support. 

When it comes to child custody considerations, a divorce between a biological parent and adoptive step-parent is essentially the same as a divorce involving two biological parents. 

Who maintains primary custody?

A judge will determine the parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement based on the best interests of the child. Sharing DNA is an irrelevant factor if the step-parent has legally adopted the child.

In determining custody, the courts start with the assumption that the best interest of the child is to maintain a strong relationship with both parents after the divorce. 

The judge also considers other evidence pertaining to the child’s physical and emotional needs including the parents’ capacity to care for the child, their willingness to cooperate, evidence of violence or abuse, and other factors outlined in Florida Statute §61.13.

Part of the divorce will also include a determination about child support. The adoptive parent will be just as responsible for financial support as the biological parent will be. To learn more about how child support is calculated in Florida and what to expect, be sure to read this post.

Divorce is hard enough on its own – add children or adoptive children to the mix and the challenges can feel exponential. Our team at the Vasquez de Lara Law Group is here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under Florida law and ensure the best outcomes for you and your family. Get in touch with our team to schedule a confidential case evaluation.

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