Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey | Stepparent Adoption Lawyer
Blending your families can be an exciting experience but one that is complicated by the many legal rules surrounding stepparent adoption in New Jersey. Being knowledgeable about your rights is important but many people are not aware of the fact that the most common type of adoption within the state of New Jersey is that of a stepparent adopting a stepchild.
The sooner you talk to a lawyer, the easier it will be to understand what’s involved in stepparent adoption. Walking things through with a lawyer can help you avoid mistakes and ensure that this momentous and important occasion for your family is handled with care. With the right NJ adoption lawyer, you’ll feel well taken care of.
There are numerous different reasons why stepparent may decide to move forward with such a procedure. The stepparent may want to officially secure an inheritance for the child or all children in the household might want to have equal status. There might also be an additional purpose to secure and legalize the bond and commitment that have long been a reality between an existing stepparent and stepchild. It is quite different to go through a stepchild adoption than adopting a child through an agency or private adoption.
In order for an adult to adopt a stepchild, they have to be married to the biological parent of the child. Furthermore, the non-custodial parent’s rights must have already been terminated. This might be the first reason why you scheduled a consultation with a New Jersey adoption attorney. Biological parents’ rights can be terminated involuntarily or voluntarily. If the biological non-custodial parent intends to voluntarily terminate their parental rights, the non-custodial parent must sign a form that officially relinquishes his or her parental rights. In addition, an involuntary termination is often possible too.
A court order can establish this if the non-custodial parent cannot be located. Other reasons why a parent’s rights might be terminated include failure to comply with recommendations of the division of child protection in permanency, a court finding that the best interests of a child are represented with a termination of parental rights, or a conviction of abandonment, abuse, cruelty or neglect. If a non-custodial biological parent’s rights are terminated, they lose the ability to have parenting or custody time with the child.
That also means that the custodial parent cannot collect reimbursement of expenses or child support from the non-custodial parent. After a biological parent’s rights have been terminated involuntarily or voluntarily, a background check must be completed by the stepparent. This usually involves a check with multiple agencies and a verification to determine whether or not domestic violence charges have applied in the past. After this check is complete and the adoption hearing is scheduled, if the child is older than 10, that child has to be present during the hearing. The stepparent becomes the official legal parent of the child and enjoins the same duties, relationships and obligations as if the child were born to that parent directly. This includes rights of inheritance.
Stepparent adoption can be especially complex if you are not familiar with the rights or the common challenges involved. For this reason, you will want to consult with an experienced attorney immediately to protect your interests from the outset of your concerns. Filing all of the proper paperwork and staying on top of the timelines associated with a stepparent adoption are extremely important for you as well as your loved ones and proper adherence to all of this documentation and the rules of the court can make things smooth for everyone involved.
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