What Is Adult Adoption?

A Florida adult adoption allows a person to formally adopt another adult. Adult adoption uses simplified court rules and procedures, making it faster and more cost-effective than a standard adoption. In Florida, adult adoption (1) gives the adopting person legal parental status, (2) terminates the biological parental rights of the biological parents, and (3) permits the adoptee to change their name.

Any person over the age of 18 can be adopted through an adult adoption. The adoptive parent must reside in Florida, but the adoptee does not need to be a Florida resident.

How to Adopt an Adult in Florida

Here are the steps to file an adult adoption in Florida:

1. File the Petition

A petition to adopt an adult begins the legal process. The petition is filed in the court where the petitioner resides or in the court where the adoption attorney is located. The petition must include all attachments required by Florida law.

The county will charge a filing fee to open the adoption court file.

Get your adoption done right.

We take care of the entire adoption process from start to finish for families throughout Florida. Learn more with a free phone or Zoom consultation.

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2. Schedule a Hearing

Once the petition for adult adoption is filed, the county clerk will assign the file to one of the judges handling domestic relations cases. The judge assignment is random.

Each judge maintains their own scheduling procedures and calendar. You and your attorney will pick one of the available hearings dates for the final hearing of adoption.

After the hearing time is secured, your attorney should file and give you a copy of a Notice of Hearing.

3. Serve Required Notices

Florida law requires that notice of the adoption hearing be served onto the adult adoptee’s existing parents. You do not need to obtain the consent of the existing parents to complete the adult adoption.

Service of the notice of hearing must be done formally. A process server, or sheriff’s deputy, must hand the notice in person to the existing parents. Alternatively, the server can give the notice to someone who resides with the existing parents.

If you do not know the location of the existing parents, then constructive service is allowed. This means that the notice of hearing will be published in a court-approved newspaper.

4. Attend a Hearing

Most judges conduct the final adoption hearing virtually by Zoom or Microsoft Teams. That means both the adopting petitioner and the adult adoptee can attend the hearing from your home.

Most hearings take 5-10 minutes. Much of the legal work has already been done in preparation for the hearing day. Your attorney will ask the adopting petitioners and the adult adoptee a series of simple questions during the hearing. Primarily, the judge wants to make sure that everyone understands the legal ramifications to the adoption and wants to go forward with it.

After the hearing, the judge will enter the Final Judgment of Adult Adoption, which formalizes the parent-child relationship.

5. Amend the Birth Certificate

Once the legal process is complete, your attorney can help you apply for an amended birth certificate. The amended birth certificate will list the Petitioner as the parent.

If the adult adoptee had their name changed through the adoption, then the amended birth certificate will reflect the name change.

Family doing an adult adoption in Florida

Who Can Be Adopted as an Adult in Florida?

Any person who is over 18 years old can be adopted by another adult in Florida. The adult adoptee must consent to the adoption.

Unlike some other states, Florida does not have any upper age limit or any other requirements for the person filing for the adoption. The person adopting the other adult can either be single or married. If they are married, their spouse must consent to the adoption.

Advantages of Adult Adoption

In Florida, an adult adoption formalizes the parental-child relationship between two adults. The benefits of adult adoption include:

  • The ability for the adult adoptee to inherit from the parent.
  • The ability to take on the adopting parent’s last name.
  • Being able to identify as family in hospital or other emergency situations.
  • In some situations, formally terminating the parental status of a toxic parent-child relationship.
  • Becoming legally part of the family.

Disadvantages of Adult Adoption

Despite its potential benefits, adult adoption also carries some disadvantages:

  1. Legal Complexity: Adoption, whether child or adult, involves legal procedures which can be complicated and time-consuming.
  2. Financial Implications: In some cases, the adoptee may become legally entitled to claim part of the adopting parent’s estate, which could lead to complications or disputes, especially in blended families.
  3. Impact on Biological Family Rights: an adult adoption cuts off the adopted person’s legal ties to their biological family, affecting rights of inheritance and access to family medical history.
  4. Emotional Challenges: As with any significant change in familial relationships, adult adoption may bring unexpected emotional challenges. It may strain relationships with other family members who might feel left out or marginalized.
  5. Impact on Social Security and Other Benefits: Adoption can sometimes affect eligibility for certain benefits. For instance, in the United States, once an adult is adopted, they may not be able to receive Social Security survivor benefits from their biological parents.
  6. Insurance Issues: Depending on the specific circumstances and jurisdiction, adult adoption may impact eligibility for life insurance benefits or rates.

Why Pursue an Adult Adoption

Most often, an adult adoption legalizes a parent-child relationship that already exists. For example, an adult adoptee may have grown up with the Petitioner acting as if they were the adoptee’s parent, even if they were not legally. Often, this is a stepparent who did not complete a stepparent adoption while the adoptee was a minor.

An adult adoption, therefore, is a way to legally formalize a parent-child for the remainder of their lives.

Get your adoption done right.

We take care of the entire adoption process from start to finish for families throughout Florida. Learn more with a free phone or Zoom consultation.

Alper Law attorneys

Requirements for Adult Adoption

In Florida, the requirements for adult adoption are established by Chapter 63 of Florida law. Under the law, an adult adoption requires:

  • The adult adoptee’s spouse, if married, must sign a consent to the adoption.
  • Written notice of the final hearing must be served onto the existing parents.
  • The adult adoption case must be filed in the county where the adopting parent lives or in the county where the attorney handling the adoption is located.
  • The petition for adult adoption must include a statement for why the petitioner wishes to adopt the adult.
  • The adult adoptee must sign a consent to the adoption.

Neither the petitioner nor the adult adoptee must reside in Florida for any set length of time. Florida law previously required the adoptee to have lived in Florida for six months, but that requirement was repealed.

The existing parents do not need to consent to the adoption. However, they are legally entitled to be notified about the adoption hearing.

Example of an Adult Adoption

Samantha and Jack have been married for 15 years. Samantha has a 20-year-old son named Alex from a previous relationship. Jack has been involved in Alex’s life since Jack was a young child and considers him to be his own son. He has formed a close bond with Alex over the years and considers him to be a part of his family.

Despite Jack’s parental role in Alex’s life, he has no legal rights as a parent since he is not biologically related to him. This has caused some practical problems, such as difficulties in obtaining medical information or the prospect of making decisions for Alex in case of an emergency.

To address these issues, Jack decides to pursue an adult adoption of Alex. This process would involve Jack formally adopting Alex as his son, despite Alex being an adult. The adoption would provide Jack with legal parental status. And it would give Alex the legal recognition of the parent-child relationship between him and Jack.

Adult Adoption FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about adult adoption in Florida.

How does adult adoption work in Florida?

A Florida adult adoption allows one adult to become the legal parent of another adult. The adoption starts by filing a petition in court. An adult adoption terminates the parental status of the absent biological parent and allows the adoptee to change their name.

How much does it cost to adopt someone over 18?

An adult adoption costs around $3,000, which includes a legal fee, the court costs, the filing fee, and the birth certificate amendment fee. Doing the adoption yourself would save you the legal fee, but you would need to strictly comply with Florida adoption law.

Is adult adoption legal in Florida?

Adult adoption allows any adult to legally adopt another adult. The adult adoptee must consent to the adoption. The adoption does not require the existing parents to consent.

Is there an age limit to adopt in Florida?

There is no age limit to adopt in Florida. Any single person, or jointly married couple, can adopt another person in Florida. They do not have to be a certain age.

What is the point of adults adopting adults?

The most common situation where one adult adopts another adult is the case where a stepparent wishes to adopt their adult stepchild. In these cases, the adopting stepparent is already a parental figure to the adult adoptee, and the adult adoption legalizes the existing relationship.

Can you adopt an adult?

Yes. In Florida, you can adopt another adult as long as they consent. There is not an age requirement.

How long does an adult adoption take?

It takes 4 months on average to complete an adult adoption in Florida.

What does adult adoption do?

Adult adoption legally establishes a permanent parent-child relationship between two adults, granting the adoptee inheritance rights and other legal rights akin to a biological child. This process formalizes an existing relationship and can only be granted by a Florida court.

Gideon Alper

About the Author

Gideon Alper is an adoption attorney who helps clients throughout Florida with stepparent, relative, and adult adoptions. He graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and has over 15 years of experience in practicing law.

Gideon focuses on helping families where there is already a connection between the adoptee and the adoptive parent. Before private practice, he represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.