Blended families are increasingly common in second marriages. In fact, some 65 percent of second marriages include children from a prior marriage.
While you cannot simply fill in the blank on a form to adopt your stepchild with the assistance of an experienced adoption attorney, adopting a stepchild is easier than you think, and the path to adoption of a stepchild can be streamlined in most cases. However, the other non-custodial biological parent must give up all legal rights and responsibilities to the child in question, or at least not object to the adoption. If that parent is unwilling to give legal consent, and objects to the adoption you can go forward with an adoption but it will be contested.
If the court finds the parent unfit to parent, possibly because of addiction, criminal history, neglect, mental illness, or abandonment issues, the court may terminate the parental rights and you can adopt the stepchild.
Or if the biological parent has not been in the picture for many years, the court may find that the other parent has willfully abandoned the child, thus paving the way for you to adopt. In any event an experienced adoption attorney can guide you through this.
Benefits to You and Your Stepchild When You Adopt
When you adopt, you are committing to the stepchild, saying, “I am your parent and will be so forever.” This can be a profound experience for the child in question. It sends a powerful message to the child that you are going to be there for him or her, no matter what.
When you adopt a stepchild, you assume all rights and responsibilities as a parent. The child can be given your last name if you and your spouse or partner choose to go that route. Your stepchild will be protected in case of the sudden death of your spouse or partner, and you will have the right to legally parent your stepchild. Your stepchild will have the same legal standing to inherit your estate as any of your other children.
Stepchild Adoption Questions? Contact an Adoption Attorney
At the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC, our lawyers bring more than 25 years of experience to every matter we handle. Attorney Donald C. Cofsky has personally handled more than 1,500 adoption proceedings since joining the bar in 1974. Attorney Bruce D. Zeidman has protected the interests of clients in state and federal courts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1984.
Please contact our office online or call us at (856) 429-5005 in Haddonfield, NJ, at (856) 429-5005 in Woodbury, NJ, or in Philadelphia, PA, at (856) 429-5005. In addition to family law matters, we represent clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.