Stepparent Adoptions in New Jersey

What Does the Law Require? How Does the Process Work?

Stepparent-Adoptions-in-New-JerseyIf you are divorced and have minor children from that marriage, you may want to have a new spouse legally adopt those children, should you remarry. What must happen before your child may legally be adopted by a stepparent in New Jersey? If the criteria are met, what does the process look like?

Reasons for Initiating Stepparent Adoption Proceedings

A stepparent may seek to adopt a child for a variety of reasons. In New Jersey, stepparents have very few parental rights—legally adopting the child can change that, allowing the stepparent to participate in decisions about the child’s health and well-being. In other situations, the child’s natural parent may be deceased, incarcerated/institutionalized, or unwilling to be involved in the child’s rearing.

What Does New Jersey Law Require before a Child May Be Adopted by a Stepparent?

Under New Jersey law, the following must happen before the court will permit a stepparent adoption:

  • The person seeking to adopt the child must be married to the child’s biological parent
  • The person seeking to adopt must be 18 years of age or older
  • The person seeking to adopt must be at least 10 years older the child he or she seeks to adopt
  • The non-custodial parent must either voluntarily relinquish all parental rights with respect to the child or must have those rights involuntarily terminated by the court

Furthermore, if the child to be adopted is 10 years of age or older, he or she must appear at a court hearing and must approve of the adoption.

The Stepparent Adoption Process

In New Jersey, the stepparent adoption process looks very much like any other adoption process. The adoptive parent must typically submit to a background check, and will need approval from the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The court must also hold a hearing before a stepparent adoption can be completed.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

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