(1) An adoption entity placing a minor for adoption has an affirmative duty to follow the requirements of this chapter and specifically the following provisions, which protect and promote the well-being of persons being adopted and their parents and prospective adoptive parents by promoting certainty, finality, and permanency for such persons. The adoption entity must:
(a) Provide written initial disclosure to the prospective adoptive parent at the time and in the manner required under s. 63.085.
Terms Used In Florida Statutes 63.039
- Adoption: means the act of creating the legal relationship between parent and child where it did not exist, thereby declaring the child to be legally the child of the adoptive parents and their heir at law and entitled to all the rights and privileges and subject to all the obligations of a child born to such adoptive parents in lawful wedlock. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Adoption entity: means the department, a child-caring agency registered under…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.
- Agency: means any child-placing agency licensed by the department pursuant to…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Child: means any unmarried person under the age of 18 years who has not been emancipated by court order. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Court: means a circuit court of this state and, if the context requires, the court of any state that is empowered to grant petitions for adoption. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Department: means the Department of Children and Families. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Fraud: Intentional deception resulting in injury to another.
- Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
- minor: includes any person who has not attained the age of 18 years. See Florida Statutes 88.6011
- Parent: means a woman who gives birth to a child and who is not a gestational surrogate as defined in…. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Person: includes a natural person, corporation, government or governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate, trust, partnership, or association, and any other legal entity. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Placement: means the process of a parent or legal guardian surrendering a child for adoption and the prospective adoptive parents receiving and adopting the child and all actions by any adoption entity participating in placing the child. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Relative: means a person related by blood to the person being adopted within the third degree of consanguinity. See Florida Statutes 153.10
- Venue: The geographical location in which a case is tried.
(b) Provide written disclosure to the parent at the time and in the manner required under s. 63.085.
(c) When a written consent for adoption is obtained, obtain the consent at the time and in the manner required under s. 63.082.
(d) When a written consent or affidavit of nonpaternity for adoption is obtained, obtain a consent to adoption or affidavit of nonpaternity that contains the language required under s. 63.062 or s. 63.082.
(e) Include in the petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption all information required under s. 63.087.
(f) Obtain and file the affidavit of inquiry pursuant to s. 63.088(4), if the required inquiry is not conducted orally in the presence of the court.
(g) When the identity of a person whose consent to adoption is necessary under this chapter is known but the location of such a person is unknown, conduct the diligent search and file the affidavit required under s. 63.088(5).
(h) Serve a petition and notice of hearing to terminate parental rights pending adoption at the time and in the manner prescribed by law.
(i) Obtain the written waiver of venue required under s. 63.062, if applicable.
(2) With the exception of an adoption by a relative or stepparent, all adoptions of minor children require the use of an adoption entity that will assume the responsibilities provided in this section.
(3) If a court finds that a consent to adoption or an affidavit of nonpaternity taken under this chapter was obtained by fraud or duress attributable to the adoption entity, the court may award all sums paid by the prospective adoptive parents or on their behalf in anticipation of or in connection with the adoption. The court may also award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the prospective adoptive parents in connection with the adoption and any litigation related to placement or adoption of a minor. The court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, if any, incurred by the person whose consent or affidavit was obtained by fraud or duress. Any award under this subsection to the prospective adoptive parents or to the person whose consent or affidavit was obtained by fraud or duress must be paid directly to them by the adoption entity or by any applicable insurance carrier on behalf of the adoption entity if the court determines, after an evidentiary hearing held subsequent to the entry of a final order in the underlying termination of parental rights or adoption action, that the actions or failures of the adoption entity directly contributed to the finding of fraud or duress.
(4) The prevailing party in an action to set aside a judgment terminating parental rights pending adoption or a judgment of adoption may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Rule 1.540(b)(3), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. An award under this subsection must be paid by the adoption entity or by the applicable insurance carrier on behalf of the adoption entity if the court finds that the acts or omissions of the entity were the basis for the court’s order granting relief to the prevailing party.
(5) Within 30 days after the entry of an order of the court finding sanctionable conduct on the part of an adoption entity, the clerk of the court must forward to:
(a) The Florida Bar any order that imposes sanctions under this section against an attorney acting as an adoption entity.
(b) The Department of Children and Families any order that imposes sanctions under this section against a licensed child-placing agency or a child-placing agency licensed in another state that is qualified by the department.
(c) The entity under s. 409.176 that certifies child-caring agencies any order that imposes sanctions under this section against a child-caring agency registered under s. 409.176.
(d) The Office of Attorney General any order that imposes sanctions under this section against the department.