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Can You Adopt in Florida If You’ve Had a Domestic Violence Charge?

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 20, 2022

Adoption is a wonderful way for families to open up their homes to children who need them.

In the United States, about 135,000 children are adopted every year, and that number continues to grow despite the often lengthy adoption process. When placing a child in a home, an adoption agency has a number of things to consider to ensure the child will end up in a loving, nurturing, and safe environment.

One of the first things an adoption agency will do is perform a background check for all prospective adoptive parents. Here in Florida, we also require a background check for any other adult who lives in a home with a prospective adoptive parent.

So what if you have a domestic violence charge on your record?

Let’s look at the type of background checks that are conducted and what might disqualify you from adopting.

Understanding Adoption Background Checks

As mentioned above, in order to make sure a child is placed in the right home, adoption agencies are required to conduct thorough background checks on the adoptive parents, as well as any other adult who might also reside in the home. These checks are done to ensure the child will be safe.

Background checks are mostly used to check on your criminal record and history. Your name will be checked against the State, local, and Federal law enforcement agencies’ records, as well as any other necessary databases to see if you have any history of criminal convictions. If you have moved to Florida from another state, Florida adoption workers will also check your previous state’s record for convictions, too.

When you decide to adopt a child, you will have to fill out an application consenting to a criminal background check, which includes:

  • Personal and identifying information such as your name, date of birth, and social security number

  • Photo identification

  • Two sets of fingerprints

  • A statement of any criminal convictions, excluding traffic violations

  • A signed statement saying you agree to release your records

Once you submit this information, your application will be sent to the Florida police to conduct the background check.

What Will Disqualify You from Adopting in Florida?

There are certain things in your background check that disqualify you from adopting a child in Florida. Grounds for disqualification include a criminal conviction for:

  • Felony child abuse or neglect;

  • Domestic violence;

  • A crime against children, including child pornography;

  • A crime of violence, including homicide, rape, and sexual assault, but excluding other types of physical assault or battery

You can also be disqualified from adopting if, within the past five years, you were convicted of a felony for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense.

Did you note the most important word in those past few paragraphs, though? Conviction. While a conviction is grounds for disqualification, a charge that was dropped or dismissed won’t automatically disqualify you. However, even a charge could pose potential problems if you’re looking to adopt a child.

That’s why if you want to adopt and you have some sort of history with domestic violence that doesn’t include a conviction, you should reach out to an experienced Florida domestic violence attorney to discuss the options that will give you the best chance to adopt in the future.

If possible, your lawyer might suggest getting your record sealed or expunged, so your criminal history won’t be able to impact the adoption decision.

If you’re thinking about adoption and have concerns about your criminal record, contact an experienced Florida family lawyer today to get the answers you need.