Ann Fabrikant, Esq.NJ Divorce and Family Law Attorney
Let’s be honest…beginning the adoption process can feel overwhelming and challenging.
Adoptions are, after all, legal procedures. That means official paperwork and potentially several months before becoming official.
But for the parent and adopted child…that’s a small price to pay.
Now, while there are quite a few types of adoptions that New Jersey recognizes, this post will cover only one: A stepparent adopting their spouse’s child.
Why Would My New Spouse Adopt My Child?
New marriages can mean so many wonderful moments to share with your new family. Regardless of how long you have been together, the legal process of marriage somehow makes it more…”official”. So what about you and your spouse’s kids from previous relationships? Sometimes that decision is far from a decision, but more a matter of course. You both want a unified and happy family, so why not make it official with the kids?
Here are some reasons why this decision might have to be made:
- The child’s biological father or mother abandoned the child
- The child’s biological father or mother has not provided any financial support for the child, including paying child support
- The child’s biological father or mother has had no contact with the child
- The child’s biological father or mother abused or neglected the child
- The child’s biological father or mother passed away.
Regardless of the reason, once you and your spouse have decided to move forward with adoption, you have to deal with the process. Since you’re on a NJ family law attorney blog… It should be no surprise that we recommend consulting with a family law attorney. Any adoption process comes with some challenging requirements. Navigating the court procedures and enjoying a smooth process is just one of the benefits.
What Are The NJ Adoption Process Requirements?
For the adoption process to move as smoothly and quickly as possible, our experienced attorney will fully prepare you ahead of time with a list of required documents needed and stipulations to be met. It is very important to have an organized, fully completed application in order to avoid unwanted delays in the adoption proceeding.
Some requirements which must be met before an adoption can be finalized are:
- Proof showing that the biological parent and the stepparent are legally married
- Background and fingerprint check of the adopting individual
- Completed application submitted to the Court
A Fabrikant Law attorney will walk you through each step to make sure that all information is gathered correctly and fully in order to avoid unwanted delays.
What can cause delays?
The adoption process in New Jersey usually takes several months to complete. There are circumstances, however, that can delay the process even further. Consent of the biological parent is required, so the inability to obtain consent (because they cannot be located or refuse to sign) can become a problem.
Cases involving any of these unique situations will be seen by a judge who will eventually determine an appropriate outcome.
How will the adoption process effect my child emotionally?
All children are different, which means that the adoption process will affect each of them in a different way. If the other biological parent is even somewhat involved in the child’s life, the child might have a hard time accepting the new situation. When a stepparent/stepchild relationship is formalized during the adoption process, the biological parent loses all parental rights to their child. Although, in rare instances, the biological parent may receive very limited visitation rights, most of the time there is no longer any contact whatsoever. This can prove to be a tough separation for the child if they have gotten used to their biological parent being even minimally present in their lives.
The judge will, of course, take the child’s ultimate needs into consideration and will typically consider the parental rights of the biological parent first.
Remember to always keep your children well-informed during the adoption process. This will enable the child to voice their feelings regarding the situation and feel involved.
Contacting our office
Whenever you and your spouse are committed to taking this next step in becoming a family, we will be ready to help you through each new milestone. During your free consultation, we will be able to get to know your unique situation and develop a plan to achieve your goal: becoming a legal parent to a child you already love as your own! We look forward to sharing this beautiful journey with you.