Archives for April 2018

Understanding the Best Interests of the Child Standard

In an average year, roughly 135,000 children are adopted within the United States. A small percentage of these adoptions involve minors who were born outside of the country. Working with our New Jersey adoption attorney may make it easier for a prospective parent to successfully go through the adoption process.

What Is the Best Interests of the Child Standard?

Simply put, the best interest of the child test looks to see if putting a child in a given home will foster his or her development into a productive adult. Our New Jersey adoption attorney can work with a prospective parent to try and increase the chances that this person is providing a safe and stable home.

This can be done by pointing to an applicant’s strong ties to the community or the fact that he or she lives in a community with good schools. Our New Jersey adoption lawyer can also point to the fact that an individual has no criminal record or that an applicant is raising children or has cared for children in the past.

What Do Courts Look at When Determining a Child’s Best Interest?

Courts will look at a variety of factors when determining if an adoption is in a child’s best interest. For instance, a court could look at whether an applicant has enough time to devote to the child, such as helping with homework or being around to provide supervision after school or on weekends. Our New Jersey adoption lawyer can further explain to a parent what a court is looking for when reviewing an adoption application.

If the child is old enough to do so, a judge may ask for his or her input when deciding where to place him or her. Often, a child must be at least 10 to 12 years old to be offered a voice in the adoption proceeding. Your NJ adoption lawyer may also ask the child questions to better ascertain if you can meet his or her needs as a parent.

What If a Child Has Special Needs?

Working with our NJ adoption attorney may be ideal if you are looking to adopt a child with special needs. This is because our NJ adoption attorney or PA adoption attorney may be able to work with the applicants, the child’s biological parents if they are still around and the courts to determine how to handle such a situation. As a general rule, adoptive parents to a special-needs child don’t need to have specific training or other particular skills to have their application considered.

Instead, the adoptive parents must agree to provide the type of care that is necessary to help that child develop as best as possible. Our NJ adoption lawyer or PA adoption lawyer could suggest that applicants move closer to the local hospital or install equipment in their home to handle potential medical issues that may arise.

Would an Adoptive Parent Have to Take a Child’s Siblings?

Our PA adoption lawyer or NJ adoption lawyer can advise an applicant as to how they should handle adopting a child with siblings. Typically, splitting up a family is not in a child’s best interest. However, exceptions may be made if the child is better off with an adoptive parent as opposed to remaining in the household he or she is currently in.

Your NJ adoption attorney or PA adoption attorney can look closer into the relationship between the siblings and their biological parents. In some cases, a biological parent has only lost custody or parental rights to that one specific child. That parent may be unwilling to give up rights to the other child voluntarily. Therefore, our New Jersey adoption attorney or PA adoption lawyer would likely have no control over whether those siblings could be adopted.

Can Children Be Moved Across State Lines?

Generally speaking, a child can be moved across state lines if it offers the opportunity of a stable and safe upbringing. Our New Jersey adoption lawyer can work with parents or other officials in those states to try and increase the odds that an applicant will obtain the rights to a child. Our PA adoption attorney can also work to help an applicant adopt a child from outside of the state.

Those who are looking for advice on their next adoption can contact Donald C. Cofsky at his office in Haddonfield, New Jersey, by calling (856) 429-5005. Our lawyer can also be reached by fax at (856) 429-6328.

How to Pay for the Adoption of a Child

Many people are surprised to discover that the costs of adopting a child are more than they expected. Some of the fees are for paying the adoption lawyer, while others are for the court costs, document filing, home visits and other aspects of the process. It’s important for prospective adoptive parents to understand how adoptions can be funded before they initiate the process.

Choosing to adopt a child is an exciting process, but many prospective parents are surprised to discover that the costs may range from $20,000 to $45,000 for a domestic adoption and $20,000 to $50,000 for an inter-country adoption. The costs include a variety of services, which range from the expenses of the birth mother to counseling of the adoptive parents and home visits. In some cases, families may be eligible for grants, loans or tax credits for some of the costs associated with a domestic or inter-country adoption.

The Types of Domestic Adoption Costs

The costs of adoption vary based on whether the process goes through an adoption agency, whether it’s a private adoption, and whether it’s a domestic or inter-country adoption. Each agency has different fee structures. In some cases, adoptive parents might already know the birth mother. In such a case, an agency might not be needed, which could reduce some of the costs of adopting a child. The typical types of domestic adoption costs include:

  • Home study, which may be one to five visits
  • Birth parent medical expenses
  • Agency fees
  • NJ or PA adoption attorney fees
  • Court costs
  • Birth certificate filing fees
  • Pre- and post-adoption counseling fees
  • Adoptive matching fees

Costs Associated with Inter-Country Adoptions

With inter-country adoptions, many parents choose to have the adoption registered in the United States because some foreign adoption decrees are either not valid or may be questionable in their level of legal protection for the parents. Costs associated with inter-country adoptions include:

  • Translation fees
  • Escort services if the adoptive parents are unable to travel to the child’s international location
  • Passport and processing fees
  • Medical care, treatment and certification of fitness to travel
  • Foreign attorney and agency fees
  • Vaccinations required for U.S. entry
  • Counseling for the child and the parents
  • Tutoring or other communications needs between the parent and child

Costs Associated with Foster Care Adoption

The lowest-cost way to adopt a child is through the local foster care system. This type of an adoption costs an average of $2,744. The fees associated with a foster care adoption include:

  • Home study fee
  • Attorney fees
  • Travel expenses
  • Court costs

Finding Funding for the Costs of an Adoption

When a person or couple wants to adopt a child, there are many ways to fund the process. Some of the fees can be paid as they come along, while others must be paid in advance or up front. Because amassing $20,000 to $50,000 in cash all at once could be difficult for many people, one or more of these methods may be used for funding an adoption:

  • Grants: Private grants are available for foster care, domestic and international adoptions.
  • State subsidies: Some states offer subsidies for certain types of adoptions. The subsidies may be in the form of a reimbursement after the expenses have been paid.
  • Tax credits: Some state and federal tax credits may be available for certain costs associated with adoptions.
  • Loans: Private loans and loans through faith-based organizations may be available for some of the expenses related to adopting a child.
  • Crowdfunding: This is a newer method of paying for an adoption. Crowdfunding makes use of a website, and anyone can contribute money into the fund. The monies contributed are considered to be gifts. In most cases, the amounts gifted to the adoptive parents aren’t taxable.
  • Employers: Some employers offer contributions in the forms of grants for employees who want to adopt a child.
  • Personal strategies: People in the process of an adoption may consider a variety of strategies to raise funds, such as taking a second job, cashing in an investment, selling personal property like a car, or having bake sales or hosting garage sales in order to generate funds.

Call the law office of Cofsy & Zeidman today at (856) 429-5005 to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey adoption lawyer. You can also visit our main office, which is located at 209 Haddon Avenue, Haddonfield, NJ 08033, for more information.

Subsidies That May Help When Adopting Children with Special Needs

Starting a family can be a costly endeavor. As a matter of fact, it was estimated that raising a child until the age of 18 can cost the average American somewhere around $240,000, which can be a bit exorbitant for some people. What’s more, the figure quadruples when it comes to children with special needs. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that many Americans think twice before adopting a child, regardless of how much they may wish to start a family.

Presence of Subsidies

Fortunately, if you’re considering adopting a child with special needs, you have a few options that can make your life easier. Through its Adoption Subsidy Program, the state of New Jersey offers different subsidies geared toward aiding those who need it. Furthermore, these subsidies tend to go out to approximately 98 percent of the children adopted with the help of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, or DCP&P for short. However, before discussing subsidies, we need to talk about to whom these subsidies apply: special needs children.

Special Needs Children

In order to resolve any ambiguity that may surround the term “special needs children,” the state of New Jersey defines them as follows:

  • Any child who faces difficulty finding an adoptive home due to his or her age, race, or ethnicity.
  • Any child struggling with a physical, intellectual, or emotional handicap that impedes his or her everyday life as well as his or her integration into society.
  • Any child who, for the time being and possibly the foreseeable future, is in need of costly medical treatment, unique services, customized equipment, or special training.
  • Any child who belongs to a group of siblings that should be kept together.
  • Any child who’s older than 5 years old, lives with a foster family for more than a year, and stands to benefit from being adopted by said foster family.

The Benefits of Subsidies

Naturally, the next question you should be asking is how much these subsidies can help you and your loved ones:

1. These subsidies can come in the form of a monthly payment that chips in the clothing allowance, among other things. Simply put, the subsidies can get families that much closer to meeting their everyday needs.

2. For parents who might struggle with the legal fees pertaining to the adoption process, they can receive a one-time payment that foots the bill for them.

3. In the event that the adopted child has a medical condition, which could be physical or psychological, that can’t be provided for with the family’s insurance, then the subsidies can come in the form of Medicaid coverage.

4. If the family requires out-of-state medical treatment, then the subsidies can cover it.

5. Disabled children can be given access to special services that cater to a particular medical need. Nevertheless, these kinds of subsidies are approved on a case-by-case basis.

6. Children who are eligible for subsidies can also be granted preschool child care services, which get their funding from the Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development. These services are offered so as to help adoptive parents who hold a full-time job or attend school.

7. Parents can receive counseling support services after their adoption so as to make the whole process go by as smoothly as possible.

8. Starting from 2003, parents who adopted children with special needs were given the right to request the adoption tax credit, which they could do without having to resort to incurring or documenting expenses.

Duration of These Subsidies

It should come as no surprise that neither the state nor the federal government can afford to pay these subsidies indefinitely. Ergo, the family is entitled to the entire subsidy payment until one of the following happens:

1. The child becomes 18.

2. The child finishes high school or any other similar program.

It’s important to point out that in either case, it’s necessary that these subsidy payments don’t exceed the original cost that would have been incurred had the child remained in foster care. Once the adopted child reaches 21, there are other state services that may be able to help.

Legal Assistance

The process of adoption can be complicated, especially since the state needs to do what’s best for the children. On the other hand, it’s easy for prospective parents to get confused by the proceedings or to let misinformation dictate their actions. Therefore, it’s advisable that anybody considering adopting a child reach out to a New Jersey adoption lawyer who’s well-versed in the ins and outs of the process. And, should you be concerned that you can’t afford an attorney, just remember that there’s a subsidy for that too, and you may be eligible for it.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment with an NJ adoption lawyer or a PA adoption lawyer, contact the law office of Cofsky & Zeidman today. You can call our office in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150.