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What can stepparents expect during the adoption process in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Stepparent Adoption

Although a stepparent may begin living with their stepchildren after marrying their parent, a stepparent doesn’t actually have the same rights as a legal or biological parent does. If they divorce or their spouse dies, the stepparent could lose all access to their stepchildren.

Stepparent adoption is one way to preserve visitation and other rights with the stepchild. If everyone agrees that the adoption would be in the child’s best interests, the households may move forward with an uncontested stepparent adoption. This process typically involves a few key steps.

Getting permission from everyone involved

The spouse of the stepparent hoping to adopt and the child if they are 10 years of age or older will typically need to give their consent for the adoption to occur. If the other parent of the child is still alive and retains their legal relationship with the child, their permission will also be necessary. The other parent of the child will need to give up their parental rights by executing certain voluntary paperwork, and once that has occurred then can the stepparent legally assume a parental role. Provided that everyone does agree and fills out the necessary documents, then the stepparent and their spouse can file the necessary paperwork with the courts.

Undergoing court review and approval

An adoption will occur when a family law judge believes that it is in the best interest of the child to be adopted. Therefore, a review of family circumstances is a necessary step before the completion of a stepparent adoption. Provided that a judge decides the adoption will benefit the child and is in the child’s best interests, the judge will execute the paperwork in order for the stepparent to become a legal, adoptive parent. After the courts approve and record the paperwork terminating the rights of one parent and formalizing the adoption of the stepparent, the lawful relationship between the parties will permanently change.

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