Adopting a stepchild is an incredibly important and memorable experience in the lives of both the parent and the child. It is a legal and public announcement that the stepparent is willing to become the legal parent and capable of taking on all the responsibilities that come with that role.
Unfortunately, there are potential complications and challenges that arise when a stepparent is trying to adopt a stepchild. Below are some of the more common obstacles that might stand between you and the legal parental rights you seek.
- Other parent's refusal to give up rights: In order for a stepparent to adopt a child, a noncustodial parent must give up his or her parental rights. This is because New Jersey laws recognize only two parents. If a parent refuses to relinquish parental rights, then stepparent adoption cannot happen.
- Failure to notify the noncustodial parent: Unless the courts terminate a parent's rights for reasons such as abandonment or lack of a biological connection, he or she must be notified and give consent for the adoption of his or her child. If this notification does not occur, the adoption cannot continue.
- Missing or unfiled paperwork: Adoption is a legal process and requires parents and prospective parents to complete and file the necessary paperwork. Failure to do this properly can jeopardize the adoption.
- Problems with background checks or home study: In accordance with state laws, adoption can be denied if there are concerns about abuse, criminal convictions or neglect, or if there are issues revealed through interviews with the parent/applicant or home visits.
These and other problems can make an otherwise joyful event frustrating and upsetting. To avoid these potential complications and secure an adoption, it can be crucial to have the support and guidance of an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can navigate and tackle the legal elements of stepparent adoption so you can focus on your family.