(1) JURISDICTION.—A court of this state which is competent to decide child welfare or custody matters has jurisdiction to hear all matters arising from a proceeding to terminate parental rights pending adoption.
(2) VENUE.— (a) A petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption must be filed:
1. In the county where the child resides; or
2. In the county where the adoption entity is located.
(b) If a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed and a parent whose consent is required objects to venue, there must be a hearing in which the court shall determine whether that parent intends to assert legally recognized grounds to contest a termination of parental rights and, if so, the court may transfer venue to a proper venue under this subsection. For purposes of selecting venue, the court shall consider the ease of access to the court for the parent and the factors set forth in s. 47.122.
(c) If there is a transfer of venue, the court may determine which party shall bear the cost of venue transfer.
For purposes of the hearing under this subsection, witnesses located in another jurisdiction may testify by deposition or testify by telephone, audiovisual means, or other electronic means before a designated court or at another location. Documentary evidence transmitted from another location by technological means that do not produce an original writing may not be excluded from evidence on an objection based on the means of transmission. The court on its own motion may otherwise prescribe the manner and terms upon which the testimony is taken.
(3) PREREQUISITE FOR ADOPTION.—A petition for adoption may not be filed until after the date the court enters the judgment terminating parental rights pending adoption. Adoptions of relatives, adult adoptions, or adoptions of stepchildren are not required to file a separate termination of parental rights proceeding pending adoption. In such cases, the petitioner may file a joint petition for termination of parental rights and adoption, attaching all required consents, affidavits, notices, and acknowledgments. Unless otherwise provided by law, this chapter applies to joint petitions.
(a) A proceeding seeking to terminate parental rights pending adoption pursuant to this chapter must be initiated by the filing of an original petition after the birth of the minor.
(b) The petition may be filed by a parent or person having physical custody of the minor. The petition may be filed by an adoption entity only if a parent or person having physical or legal custody who has executed a consent to adoption pursuant to s. 63.082 also consents in writing to the adoption entity filing the petition. The original of such consent must be filed with the petition.
(c) The petition must be entitled: “In the Matter of the Termination of Parental Rights for the Proposed Adoption of a Minor Child.”
(d) The petition to terminate parental rights pending adoption must be in writing and signed by the petitioner under oath stating the petitioner’s good faith in filing the petition. A written consent to adoption, affidavit of nonpaternity, or affidavit of diligent search under s. 63.088, for each person whose consent to adoption is required under s. 63.062, must be executed and attached. (e) The petition must include:
1. The minor’s name, gender, date of birth, and place of birth. The petition must contain all names by which the minor is or has been known, excluding the minor’s prospective adoptive name but including the minor’s legal name at the time of the filing of the petition. In the case of an infant child whose adoptive name appears on the original birth certificate, the adoptive name shall not be included in the petition, nor shall it be included elsewhere in the termination of parental rights proceeding.
2. All information required by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
3. A statement of the grounds under s. 63.089 upon which the petition is based.
4. The name, address, and telephone number of any adoption entity seeking to place the minor for adoption.
5. The name, address, and telephone number of the division of the circuit court in which the petition is to be filed.
6. A certification of compliance with the requirements of s. 63.0425 regarding notice to grandparents of an impending adoption.
(5) SUMMONS TO BE ISSUED.—The petitioner shall cause a summons to be issued substantially in the form provided in Form 1.902, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Petition and summons shall be served upon any person whose consent has been provided but who has not waived service of the pleadings and notice of the hearing thereon and also upon any person whose consent is required but who has not provided that consent.
(6) ANSWER AND APPEARANCE REQUIRED.—An answer to the petition or any pleading requiring an answer must be filed in accordance with the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure. Failure to file a written response to the petition constitutes grounds upon which the court may terminate parental rights. Failure to appear at the hearing constitutes grounds upon which the court may terminate parental rights. Any person present at the hearing to terminate parental rights pending adoption whose consent to adoption is required under s. 63.062 must:
(a) Be advised by the court that he or she has a right to ask that the hearing be reset for a later date so that the person may consult with an attorney; and
(b) Be given an opportunity to admit or deny the allegations in the petition.