Despite popular belief, the most common form of adoption is stepparent adoptions. Stepparent adoption is when the stepparent assumes financial and legal responsibility for their spouse’s child or children and releasing the non-custodial parent of their responsibilities including child support.
There is no federal law that oversees stepparent adoptions and therefore the process is handled by each individual state. In order for a step-parent adoption to take place in New Jersey, the following is required:
- The stepparent has been a resident of New Jersey for at least six months
- The paperwork is filed in the county where you reside
- There is consent from the absent parent**
- If the minor is between the ages of 14 and 17, they have to give consent to the adoption as well.
**If the whereabouts of the absent parents is unknown or if there has been no contact from the absent parent for over 12 months, the adoption can still be processed. If the child is over 18, this is known as an adult adoption and doesn’t need consent from the absent parent.
In New Jersey, the court believes that is better for a child to live in a home with two parents. This is why the stepparent adoption process takes roughly 3 months to complete. An adult adoption can take a little as 2 months to complete.
Once the adoption is finalized, a new birth certificate can be issued to the adoptee. The adoption will also give the stepparent the ability to make decisions on behalf of your stepchild including medical care, school, religion, and other life issues. And in the event of a divorce, the stepparent who adopted the child will be able to entitled to child visitation and child support depending on the circumstance.
For more information on how to arrange a stepparent adoption in New Jersey, contact our law offices.