2010 Florida Statutes
Responsibility of parents for actions; fraud or misrepresentation; contesting termination of parental rights and adoption.
Responsibility of parents for actions; fraud or misrepresentation; contesting termination of parental rights and adoption.—
Each parent of a child conceived or born outside of marriage is responsible for his or her actions and is not excused from strict compliance with this chapter based upon any action, statement, or omission of the other parent or a third party, except as provided in s. 63.062(2)(a).
Any person injured by a fraudulent representation or action in connection with an adoption may pursue civil or criminal penalties as provided by law. A fraudulent representation is not a defense to compliance with the requirements of this chapter and is not a basis for dismissing a petition for termination of parental rights or a petition for adoption, for vacating an adoption decree, or for granting custody to the offended party. Custody and adoption determinations must be based on the best interest of the child in accordance with s. 61.13.
The Legislature finds no way to remove all risk of fraud or misrepresentation in adoption proceedings and has provided a method for absolute protection of an unmarried biological father’s rights through compliance with this chapter. In balancing the rights and interests of the state and of all parties affected by fraud, including the child, the adoptive parents, and the unmarried biological father, the Legislature has determined that the unmarried biological father is in the best position to prevent or ameliorate the effects of fraud and, therefore, has the burden of preventing fraud.
The Legislature finds that an unmarried biological father who resides in another state may not, in every circumstance, be reasonably presumed to know and comply with the requirements of this chapter. Therefore, if all of the following requirements have been met, an unmarried biological father may contest a termination of parental rights or subsequent adoption and, before entry of the final judgment of adoption, assert his interest in the child. Following such assertion, the court may proceed with an evidentiary hearing if:
The unmarried biological father resides and has resided in another state where the unmarried mother was also located or resided.
The unmarried mother left that state without notifying or informing the unmarried biological father that she could be located in this state.
The unmarried biological father has, through every reasonable means, attempted to locate the mother but does not know or have reason to know that the mother is residing in this state.
The unmarried biological father has substantially complied with the requirements of the state where the mother previously resided or was located in order to protect and preserve his parental interest and rights with regard to the child.
s. 13, ch. 2003-58; s. 9, ch. 2008-151.