Child Support

A wonderful image of a new family after adopting a spouse's child in NJ

The Journey to Adopting Your Spouse’s Child

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.

We are here to listen, advise, and tenacious defend. Our #1 goal is to guide you to your new tomorrow with the most resources and options at your disposal.

Do you have questions? Take advantage of our free consultation today!

(732) 659-4109       ✉

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Although child custody evaluations are a very common part of divorce proceedings, going through a custody evaluation can be a tense and worrisome process for parents. One way to help reduce the anxiety is to make sure you know what to expect during a child custody evaluation.

What is a child custody evaluation?

A child custody evaluation is a process in which a mental health professional, typically a psychologist, evaluates a child and the parents of that child in order to make a recommendation to the court regarding child custody and visitation rights.

The main focus of all custody evaluations is to ensure that the best interests of the children involved are being met as best as possible. This requires the psychologist to pay close attention to the needs of the children and the skills that each parent may or may not have to meet those needs.

When are custody evaluations performed?

The most common reason for a child custody evaluation is if parents are unable to reach an agreement on child custody. Another reason for a custody evaluation is when one parent believes that their current custody agreement does not meet the needs of their children. In either case, the judge will order a custody evaluation to get a recommendation for the best parenting arrangements.

How can I prepare for a child custody evaluation?

Undergoing a child custody evaluation is very stressful for most parents. Even if you are an exceptional parent, your nervousness may affect your actions during an evaluation. Here are some tips to help you remain calm and focused during the evaluation:

  • Be cooperative. Keep in mind that the evaluator is just doing his or her job as requested by the court. Even if you disagree with the process, it is in your best interest to be respectful and cooperative.
  • Be honest.  The evaluator can usually tell if you are not being forthright.  Honesty is always best.
  • Present yourself well. Dress as if you’re going to a job interview. Show up on time. Speak calmly and clearly at all times.
  • Be prepared. Consult with your attorney about questions that the evaluator will most likely ask. Find out if there are any documents that you may be required to present during the evaluation.
  • Focus on your child. Your answers should let the evaluator know that you prioritize your child above all else.  Do not use this as an opportunity to only bash the other parent.
  • Compile a list of referral questions. You may be able to submit a list of questions that you would like the evaluator to ask during the evaluation. Discuss with your attorney if doing so would be to your advantage.

What happens during a child custody evaluation process?

In order for the mental health professional to make the best determination about custody, he or she will typically conduct multiple interviews with each parent separately as well as the child involved, if age appropriate. They may conduct interviews with others involved with the family as well, such as teachers, physicians, spiritual leaders, etc. 

In addition to interviews, the mental health professional will observe each parent as they interact with the child, either at the evaluator’s office or in the home. They may also choose to perform psychological testing on the parents. Finally, the evaluator will review previous court records and legal documents regarding the divorce and custody case.

Based on all the information gathered, the evaluator will generate a report and submit it to the judge hearing the case. This report will include the evaluator’s recommendations on how custody should be awarded.

As with all legal proceedings, child custody evaluations can be challenging. Remember to consult with your attorney throughout the process to ensure you’re doing what’s best for you and your child.

Fabrikant Law, LLC prides itself on providing exceptional professional and personalized service. For assistance with your family law matter, please contact us today.

We are here to listen, advise, and tenacious defend. Our #1 goal is to guide you to your new tomorrow with the most resources and options at your disposal.

Do you have questions? Take advantage of our free consultation today!

(732) 659-4109       ✉

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Child’s Post-Divorce Fears

Addressing Your Child’s Post-Divorce Fears

Child’s Post-Divorce Fears

When I think about how little most adults know about divorce, I am reminded of how frightening divorce can be for children. Some may refer to me as a divorce lawyer but I practice family law. It is tragic when couples confuse child custody with property division. You may no longer be a couple but you will always be parents. Addressing your child’s post-divorce fears should be top priority.

Those fears do no kick in once the papers are signed. They begin as soon as a child is made aware. The full scope of their anxieties will only be learned by speaking with them. However, these are probably the three most common fears children experience in the wake of a divorce announcement.

Do Mom and Dad Hate Each Other?

It’s a natural extreme for a child’s mind, even if your separation is not particularly contentious. Do not assume that your child has the wherewithal to understand the complexity of adult relationships, even if he or she is mature for their age. A child can know what divorce is but can still be concerned over its lasting effects.  Imagine the anxiety your child may feel over the idea that this conflict is something they will have to deal with forever. It can even extend to their relationships with extended family.

How to address: Minimize conflict when in front of your children. This must be decided as soon as you decide to separate. Speak to them and encourage them to speak to you. As for you and your spouse, the sooner you can arrive at a parenting plan, the better. Your commitment to learning how to navigate these changes will set the right example for your children.

Do I Have To Choose Between My Parents?

Children have always interpreted their role in custody as choosing between their mother and father. Again, this translation is the source of profound anxiety. You don’t feel comfortable playing sides when it is your own side you are playing. How is a child going to feel?

How to address: Such lines are drawn in regards to children more often than not, anyway. A child is allowed to miss his or her parents. He or she should feel free to speak about this without you or your spouse making it personal.  Remember when you taught your child to say nothing if he or she has nothing nice to say? It’s time to follow your own advice.

Is It My Fault My Parents Are Getting A Divorce?

A child’s pain can be turned inward the same as an adult’s. Questions about the end of your relationship must be directed somewhere. Blaming themselves for the divorce, children’s imaginations can be brutal.

How to address: Communication remains essential. If you feel overwhelmed, books are available, as are online resources. Don’t underestimate your child, either. As complicated as a divorce can be, it can still be broken down to simple, direct language. Children respond quite well to being given the benefit of the doubt.

Will there be a definitive end to your child’s fears regarding divorce? They will eventually come to an understanding but will always appreciate a present and available parent.

We are here to listen, advise, and tenacious defend. Our #1 goal is to guide you to your new tomorrow with the most resources and options at your disposal.

Do you have questions? Take advantage of our free consultation today!

(732) 659-4109       ✉

Share this post or email it to yourself for future reference!

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