Stepparent Adoption in NJ

Stepparent Adoption in New Jersey

If you’ve remarried after divorce and you have children from your prior marriage, you may want to consider having your new spouse legally adopt your children. Some of the benefits include:

  • The legal right to make decisions about medical care, education, religious training and other life concerns for your stepchild
  • A potentially greater bond with your stepchild
  • A greater sense of security for the stepchild, particularly if the biological parent is absent
  • It will ensure that your stepchild has access to health insurance and other benefits through your employer

As a general rule, stepparent adoptions are simpler than other types of adoptions. In many states, including New Jersey, there’s no requirement that you complete a home study. Nonetheless, the process can take a few months.

Often, the biggest challenge with a stepparent adoption is obtaining a termination of the parental rights of the non-custodial parent. The easiest way to do that is to convince the non-custodial parent to voluntarily relinquish parental rights. Because the termination of parental rights also terminates the obligation to pay child support, that can be an attractive option for some non-custodial parents. However, it also extinguishes the right to visitation with the child.

If you cannot get the non-custodial parent to voluntarily give up parental rights, you can ask the court to terminate those rights. A judge will typically not allow a termination without sufficient cause, such as abandonment, documented domestic abuse or unfitness to be a parent. Among the factors that contribute to a finding of unfitness are history of substance abuse, incarceration or neglect.

You can also terminate the rights of a non-custodial father if you can provide evidence that he’s not the biological parent. DNA evidence is customarily sufficient.

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.