Adoption is a frequent occurrence in today’s society but it may surprise you to know that stepparent adoption is the most common form of adoption. The stepparent assumes full responsibility for the child, while the biological, non-custodial parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities to that child. Stepparent adoption usually occurs when the divorced custodial parent remarries and the natural parent is unwilling or declared unfit to care for the child. Usually, the non-custodial biological parent is deceased or has “abandoned” the child by failing to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child and failing to provide financial support for the child. Often, the whereabouts of the biological parent are unknown. In some cases, the biological, non-custodial parent may feel that the adoption is in the child’s best interest, and will consent to the adoption.
Stepparent Adoptions in New Jersey
New Jersey laws require that the adoption be in the child’s best interest, that the stepparent be committed to the child’s welfare, and that the stepparent be both at least 18 years old and 10 years older than the child. If the non-custodial parent does not consent to the adoption and voluntarily gives up his/her rights to the child, that parent’s parental rights may only be terminated by the court by a showing that the non-custodial parent is deemed unfit, such as (1) he or she has failed to fulfill the normal, expected parental role if able to do so or (2) he or she is unable to do so and will not be able in the immediate foreseeable future. However, if the non-custodial parent has regular contact with the child and pays child support, a stepparent adoption in New Jersey is unlikely.
Consult the Haddonfield Family Law Attorneys at Adinolfi & Lieberman, P.A.
A stepparent adoption in New Jersey is very “technical” in that unless all the steps and procedures are followed with care, the adoption will not be granted. In order to have a successful adoption, you need an experienced New Jersey family law attorney to guide you through the complex process. The Haddonfield family law attorneys at Adinolfi & Lieberman, P.A. have handled countless stepparent adoptions, both amicable and adversarial, and understand the anxiety that can go along with this well-meant endeavor. With our office in Haddonfield, New Jersey, we are easily accessible from all locations throughout South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, including areas such as Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, Cumberland County, Atlantic County, Cherry Hill, Moorestown, Haddon Township, Mt. Laurel, Voorhees, Marlton and Medford. Call us today at 856-428-8334 or contact us online.
Robert J. Adinolfi is a founding partner of Adinolfi & Lieberman who concentrates his New Jersey family law practice on all aspects of divorce and matrimonial law. His practice areas include divorce and child custody, child support, visitation & parenting time, alimony, prenuptial agreements, property settlements, domestic violence and civil unions.