“LIVING EXPENSES PAID”
What does that mean?
Often times, birthmothers will hear the phrase “living expenses paid” when they are researching adoption or other options for an unplanned pregnancy. But what does that really mean? In Florida, birthmothers in an adoption plan are able to receive financial assistance from the prospective adoptive parents for their actual living expenses during the pregnancy and for up to six weeks following birth. The legislators created this provision in Florida law so that birthmothers who do not make enough to pay their living expenses or are unable to work during their pregnancy can be assured of having basic shelter and nutrition during their pregnancy and recovery period, thus increasing the chances of having a healthy baby. Not all states allow birthmothers in an adoption plan to receive financial assistance with their living expenses.
What are considered actual living expenses?
In Florida. the law is very specific in what living expenses are allowable. Under Florida law, this includes basic provisions for rent, utilities (electric, cable, water, telephone), food, clothing and transportation (gas, car insurance, car payment, bus passes, Ubers). Florida law does not allow the prospective adoptive parents to pay such things as the birthmother’s credit card bills, student loans, educational expenses, vacation expenses, etc. Only the birthmother’s basic expenses for rent, utilities, food, clothing and transportation are allowable.
How are these expenses paid?
The funds for rent, utilities and transportation are typically paid directly to the vendor (i.e. payment for rent goes directly to the landlord, payment of the electric bill goes directly to the utility company, the car payment goes directly to loan company, etc.) while the funds for food, gas and clothing are typically paid directly to the birthmother on a weekly basis. Florida law only allows the prospective adoptive parents to pay the birthmother’s living expenses or her share of the living expenses if she resides with the birthfather or a roommate. Although the birthfather may be an integral part of the adoption plan, payment of the birthfather’s living expenses or his share of the living expenses is not allowable.
What if the birthmother changes her mind and decides to parent her child after birth?
The birthmother always has the right to change her mind prior to signing a final consent for adoption after the birth of the baby. However, many adoption agencies and adoption attorneys have the birthmothers sign an agreement that they will be responsible for paying the prospective adoptive parents back for the financial assistance they received for their living expenses should they elect not to continue with their adoption plan. It is very important that a birthmother think through her decision carefully before entering an adoption plan. If a birthmother is not sure about her adoption plan or if she is wavering about her decision, it is best to wait a few more weeks or months until she is sure that adoption is the right choice for her and her baby before entering into an adoption plan.
What if a birthmother has already entered into an adoption plan and begins to have doubts later in the pregnancy?
The birthmother should tell the adoption agency or adoption attorney right away that she is having doubts about the adoption plan and she should stop accepting any financial assistance from the prospective adoptive parents. It is unfair for a birthmother to continue taking assistance from prospective adoptive parents when she knows that she may not follow through on her adoption plan. It also helps to minimize the expenses the birthmother may owe back to the prospective adoptive parents should she elect to parent her child. A birthmother can always put her adoption plan “on hold” until such time as she is sure that adoption is the right choice for her and her baby.
If you have any questions regarding payment of living expenses, please feel free to call or text Attorney Kaplan at (954) 270-2787.