Many couples divorce and remarry. These marriages may add new additions to your family. For example, if you have a child, he or she may now have a stepparent and stepsiblings. In some cases, a stepparent will want to adopt his or her stepchild. Read on to learn more about this process.
Why Do Stepparent Adoptions Occur?
Stepparent adoptions may occur for a number of reasons. For example, a stepparent may wish to adopt his or her stepchild if the child’s biological parent is incarcerated or institutionalized. Additionally, in New Jersey stepparents do not have many parental rights. So, a stepparent may adopt his stepchild in order to legally make important decisions regarding the child’s education, religion, and health.
What the are Requirements?
If you wish to adopt your stepchild, there are certain requirements that must be met. These requirements include:
- Both biological/ legal parents of the child must consent to the adoption, unless the court finds that the other parent’s consent is not legally required. This will depend on many factors, such as whether the non-custodial parent is named on the child’s birth certificate and the extent to which he or she has taken physical, emotional and financial responsibility for the child.
- A child over 10 years old must consent to the stepparent adoption and be present at the adoption hearing.
Terminating Parental Rights
Stepparent adoptions do not occur very often because in order to do so, the child’s non-custodial parent must have his or her parental rights terminated. This can occur if the parent gives permission to have his rights terminated. In the event that you cannot get permission, a New Jersey court can terminate parental rights. But, for the most part, this termination will only occur if there is proof of abuse or neglect.
What is the Process?
In the event that you are able to adopt your stepchild, you will have to go through an adoption process. You will want to retain the help of a family law attorney. The adoption process will likely involve a background check. You will need to be fingerprinted and cleared through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Additionally, there will be an adoption hearing. When the adoption is complete, the law views the stepparent as the biological and legal parent of the stepchild, with the same parental rights and obligations of any biological parent.
If you are interested in adopting your stepchild, contact our firm to speak with a dedicated family law attorney today.
Contact our Firm
Ross and Calandrillo, LLC is a full-service divorce, family, and real estate law firm located in Mountainside, New Jersey. For strong legal representation in all of your divorce or family law matters, contact Ross and Calandrillo, LLC to schedule a consultation.