Everything You Need to Know to Move Forward with the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey
Given that approximately 25% of first marriages in New Jersey result in divorce, second marriages are 60%, and third marriages are 73%, families are changing in the blink of an eye. Frequently, stepparents want to make their membership in the family official by adopting their spouse’s children. Across the country, stepparent adoption is just behind foster parent adoptions, which are the most common. Stepparents do not have parental rights of any kind, and by adopting their spouse’s children, that changes.
Adopting your stepchild requires the experience of qualified adoption lawyers who know the law and have mastered the procedures necessary to get a positive outcome in your case. Having the close support of the lawyers at The Bronzino Law Firm will give you the peace of mind to move forward and follow the necessary steps and requirements to adopt your stepchild.
If you are interested in adopting your stepchild in New Jersey, you can trust us as your law firm to support and guide you along the way. We invite you to give us a call at (732) 812-3102 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation.
Most Common Situations that Lead to Stepparent Adoption
There are three circumstances one typically sees when discussing stepparent adoptions. The first is when the stepparent takes over the role of the child’s birth parent who does want to care for the child, is unable to, or has been declared legally unfit as a parent. Another circumstance is when the stepparent’s spouse (child’s birth parent) dies, and the stepparent adopts the child. Occasionally, when the stepparent and birth parent divorce, the stepparent adopts their ex-spouse’s child.
Stepparent Adoption Route in New Jersey
To adopt a stepchild, the non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights. The stepparent will be fingerprinted and be the subject of a background check. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency will also conduct a brief investigation. After an adoption hearing, the stepparent and the child will have the same rights as though the relationship were biological.
Requirements that Stepparents Must Meet to Adopt
Firstly, there must be at least a ten-year difference between the adopting stepparent and the child who is being adopted. This requirement has been waived from time to time under exceptional circumstances. Also, children 12 years of age and older must write a testimony that they want to be adopted and are aware they will no longer have contact with their birth parents. Children the age of ten and up can offer consent to the adoption process.
Parental consent is the sticky wicket in this process. The non-custodial parent must give up their parental rights to allow the stepparent to proceed with the adoption. If the birth parent is in prison, has an addiction to mind-altering substances, is incarcerated, does not have a place to live, or there has been proven abuse of the child by the birth parent, those are supporting reasons their parental rights could be removed.
Once all requirements have been filled, a family court judge will receive the adoption case and approve or deny it. This is the step that determines if the adoption is granted or denied.
Parental Consent, a Critical Component of Stepparent Adoption
Stepparent adoptions require that both birth parents consent to the adoption, giving up their parental rights. Usually, the birth mother or father, one of the biological parents, is in the relationship and wants the stepparent to adopt their child. Getting consent from the non-custodial parent can be incredibly challenging. It can be worrisome for a parent to rescind their parental rights and responsibilities. They will have no say in their child’s future. Of course, if the parent hasn’t had a relationship with the child for many years, permission may be more readily obtained.
Proving Negligence if Consent of Both Parents is Not Granted in NJ
If one can prove neglect, abuse, or abandonment on the part of the non-custodial parent, losing their parental rights is much easier. If you can prove the parent is not the biological father, he would have parental rights. There are several statutes that allow for the adoption of children by their stepparents without actual parental consent. They all require the birth parent to be notified of the adoption with or without their consent, and it only takes one to favor the adoption.
If the birth parent has not communicated compellingly with their child in 12 months without justifiable cause, this will denote abandonment. Next, if the birth parent is involved in criminal activities, is chronic alcohol or drug abuser, or spends most of their time incarcerated, parental rights could be taken. Also, proven physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse, malnutrition, or neglect on the part of the natural parent to the child can cause them to lose their parental rights.
There are times when the birth parent contests the adoption process. The stepparent and their lawyer must compile evidence showing the birth parent’s consent are unnecessary. Meanwhile, the birth parent must establish a relationship with the child that cannot be lost to the adoption. If the judge accepts the stepparent’s case, the adoption is granted; if they get the birth parent’s case, it is denied. An appeal is possible for the losing side.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights for Stepparent Adoption
If a parent’s rights are terminated voluntarily, they relinquish their rights as a parent. When dealing with involuntary termination of parental rights, the parent and stepparent must petition the court to prove the other natural parent is unfit. This is frequently seen when they have been unable to steadily contact the parent, or there is no longer a relationship with the child. If the stepparent can show a profound and valued relationship with the child, involuntary termination is a strong possibility.
How Long is the Stepparent Adoption Process in New Jersey?
It depends on many factors: the availability of the court if the birth parent is contesting the adoption, if you can produce all requested documents expeditiously and with few complications, it could take three months, with more, 12 months or more.
Planning to Start the Stepparent Adoption Process in NJ? Contact our Offices in Brick and Sea Girt
If you or someone you know is going to adopt a stepchild, it is an excellent idea to depend on an attorney to guide you through the process, especially if you suspect you may have trouble in the area of parental rights. A lawyer on our team can explain the best way to handle any situation that may come up and ensure that everything is handled precisely along the way.
The Bronzino Law Firm is prepared to make the adoption of your stepchild a pleasant and memorable moment. We want to meet your growing family’s needs and enjoy nothing more than shaking hands and smiling for pictures when your adoption process has been completed in Asbury Park, Middletown, Manchester, Berkeley, Howell, Point Pleasant, Manalapan, and elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
Navigate the Process of Becoming a Kinship Guardian in Ocean County NJ
Becoming a kinship guardian can mark one of the most beautiful opportunities in your life. Nonetheless, these miraculous and life-changing opportunities can become complicated, confused, and a source of legal troubles.
Adoption and parenthood can present a multitude of challenges, requiring extensive legal knowledge of the rights and responsibilities, the differences in guardianship types, and more. Due to the sensitive nature of kinship legal guardianship in New Jersey, it is imperative to work with a qualified attorney throughout the process.
What Does Kinship Legal Guardianship Refer to in New Jersey?
Kinship legal guardianship refers to situations where a relative or other person becomes the long-term legal guardian for a child. Courts appoint a close family friend, relative, or another adult tasked with caring for the child if parents are unable to.
With kinship legal guardianship, a caregiver can be appointed to care for a child. The parents may lose custody and have difficulty regaining custody once it has been lost. The caregiver assumes most responsibility for the child. Parents can still have contact, attempt to resume custody, or oppose a court action by the caregiver.
Neither birth nor adoptive parents will have legal custody of their child if a court grants kinship legal guardianship to a caregiver. However, they still have the power to consent to an adoption or a name change, the obligation to pay child support, and the right to visit their child. Children can still legally visit siblings and extended family, with approval from the court or the kinship legal guardian. Children can also still inherit from their birth or adoptive parents and receive insurance or government benefits through them.
NJ Prerequisites to Become a Caregiver
Caregivers do not have to be related to a child in order to obtain kinship legal guardianship. The program is available to those who have legal relationships with children within their care and family friends. Foster parents can also apply for the same title.
Caregivers are eligible for kinship legal guardianship if a child has been living with the caregiver for a minimum of 12 months if the parents are incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of their child if the caregiver is related to the child, the caregiver has the financial means to provide for the child and if the caregiver can prove to the court that it is in the best interest of the child to remain with them.
What are the Rights and Responsibilities of Kinship Legal Guardians?
Caregivers can request that courts appoint them the kinship legal guardian for a child living in their home if the child’s birth parents are unable to care for the child in question. Once granted kinship legal guardianship, a caregiver has the same rights and responsibilities as a birth parent, which extends to decisions regarding the childcare, consent for medical treatment, plans for the child’s education, services for the child, and the responsibility of guaranteeing their child’s well-being and overall safety. The Kinship Navigator Program can provide further insight into the rights and responsibilities of guardians.
Difference Between Adoption, Kinship Legal Guardianship, and Guardianship
New Jersey adoption brings with it complicated legal requirements to determine the type of adoption, primarily open or closed. Such determination can facilitate or prohibit updates exchanged with birth parents and visitation and even discussion of parentage. Legal adoption requires the parental rights of birth parents to be terminated. Stepparents looking to adopt younger members of their combined family must first remove legal rights from the birth father before adopting the child.
Kinship legal guardianship does not terminate parents’ rights allowing birth parents to seek visitation and remain financially responsible for the child.
Once appointed, a kinship legal guardian is responsible for the child until they turn 18. The court can end the guardianship before this benchmark if it is in the child’s best interest, if the parents are now able to care for their child, or if the legal guardian is no longer able to care for the child. To do so requires a motion filed with the court, after which a hearing is held to determine whether the guardianship should conclude. Parents who want to regain custody must prove that the circumstances which resulted in the guardianship are no longer and the parent is now willing and able.
Kinship legal guardians can capitalize on state-funded financial aid to cover the cost of caring for children such as nephews, nieces, or grandchildren. Moreover, caregivers are eligible if they have cared for a child over the last 12 months with legal status as kinship legal guardianship.
Contact a Brick NJ Kinship Legal Guardianship Attorney Today
Given the delicate nature of kinship legal guardianship, families and family friends cannot afford minor mistakes at the risk of the child’s well-being. Appropriate legal counsel can help navigate through this process, which is why talking to an experienced lawyer about your case is such a critical decision. An attorney can help assess situations for kinship legal guardianship versus adoption, facilitate appropriate legal paperwork and court hearings for kinship legal guardianship, and provide legal guidance to facilitate applications for state-funded financial aid and regaining custody of children.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team of Family Law Attorneys has vast knowledge in the area of kinship legal guardianship, child abuse and neglect, child custody disputes, and more. Having helped clients in Sea Girt, Holmdel, Point Pleasant, Middletown, Toms River, Lakewood, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties, we are ready and willing to do what it takes to best serve your needs and the needs of the child you care so much about.
The Rise of Platonic Parenting in New Jersey
Science has progressed in such a way that the possibilities to have a family are dizzying and have opened the door to the phenomenon of platonic parents.
The 1950’s image of a traditional family, man, and woman in a monogamous relationship, having children after marriage, has become only one of many different kinds of families. Now more than ever having a family does not necessarily follow marriage. Some couples prefer adoption in lieu of pregnancy, while others have their biological children and adopt more. For infertile couples, the option of surrogacy or IVF treatments opens the way for them to start a family. Even the family members have strayed from the “traditional” pattern. Heterosexual couples who choose not to get married, same-sex couples who get married and want children, a single man or woman who wants children without a partner and uses a sperm or egg donor.
What is Platonic Parenting?
Platonic parenting is a relationship between two people who want to have children without romantically getting involved with each other. These couples can be composed of friends, strangers, former coworkers, or acquaintances. Platonic parenting is especially popular in the LGBTQIA community. Some heterosexual couples opt for natural insemination even though they aren’t a couple in the romantic sense because other methods are prohibitively expensive. Gay and lesbian couples typically choose IVF, surrogacy, artificial insemination, or adoption. When sexual chemistry and a physical relationship are no longer factors, the child becomes the focus rather than the couple.
What are the Advantages of Platonic Parenting?
For many people who choose platonic co-parenting, a failed marriage or long-term relationship is in their close past, and as they didn’t have children with their now-ex-spouse, the biological clock is ticking. Perhaps they don’t want to be a part of another romantic relationship. Maybe their last one caused a lot of emotional traumas that they are just not willing to go through again. Sometimes married couples want their surrogate or the biological parents of an adoptive child to be a part of the family. These are basically strangers who would be parenting with them. Whatever the reason it is vital that all of the parties involved create an agreement regarding the raising of the child.
Developing a Platonic Parenting Agreement in NJ
The couple should have discussed the items before sitting down with an attorney and creating an agreement. Also, the smaller details such as, ”Do you have a good relationship with your parents?”, “Do you like your job?”, What do you do in your free time?”, “What are your religious beliefs?” and many others. This is not someone with whom a team science project is being done. It is a life-long investment in a relationship to raise a child cooperatively.
Examples of the items to include in the agreement are listed here:
- Who will attend the birth/prenatal appointments.
- The eventual explanation to the child of their relationship and conception
- Religious practices (if any)
- Child-rearing techniques and the use of a babysitter/nanny
- Who will make the medical decisions
- The child’s name
- Decisions about vaccines
- Visitations, holidays, and vacations
- Education, who will attend teacher’s meetings
- Financial responsibilities of each parent.
Many others can be added based on the concerns of the couple.
Platonic Parenting Pitfalls
No relationship is perfect. If we consider that a married couple is joined by their love for one another, a platonic couple’s strongest bond is their child. There may be jealousy issues when the platonic parents begin to see someone romantically. Maybe a romantic relationship leads to a move to another town or city. Sometimes one parent demonstrates a romantic interest in the other that is unrequited, and resentment builds. It is one thing to make an agreement, but when the rubber meets the road and decisions need to be made in the moment of discipline and education, there can often be discord. If one parent lives in a separate dwelling, finances can be strained and previous agreements of who would pay what and when they would pay it simply aren’t a possibility.
How To Make It Work
Making a platonic parenting relationship is hard work and very similar to a traditional parenting relationship. Communication is the key: expressing expectations, discussing concerns, being kind and thoughtful, being careful with what is said or texted. It is about expressing one’s concerns, fears, and anger maturely, keeping in mind the child is the focus of the relationship. Frequently discussing personal and family goals as well as checking in about the roles each parent should play are great ways to communicate. Respecting each other, whether it be a right to privacy, a romantic relationship, or social life, and avoiding jealousy or snarky remarks about the people with whom the parent chooses to go out.
Considering a Platonic Parenting Relationship? A Family Law Attorney in Brick NJ Can Guide You
There is a wide range of instances in which a lawyer can be of great help. First, they can help create the parenting agreement, which lists the roles and responsibilities of both parents along with other details. If there is difficulty getting both sides to agree, a lawyer can facilitate a mediator or a round table to hammer out the sticking points. If the parents decide to uncouple, visitation, support, custody issues, etc., will need to be worked out with an attorney.
There is a lot of planning and talking that goes into an agreement like this. Starting a family is a major step, and you want to do it in the best way possible. Now is a great time to get the ball rolling because the process will take some time. At our offices, we will more than happy to guide you in the entire process, if you live in Holmdel, Colts Neck, Rumson, Little Silver, or any other place across Monmouth and Ocean Counties, do not hesitate to get in contact with us.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LCC, our knowledgeable team wants to help your dream to have a family become a reality. We are here to walk you through this process and any challenge that may arise from beginning to end.
Contact us online or give us a call at (732) 812-3102.
Important Steps when Adopting Internationally in Monmouth & Ocean County and across NJ
Adoption, especially from an international pool of deserving children, can be an overwhelming experience.
There are a myriad of things to consider when making decisions about your international adoption, and laws and procedures regarding the international adoptions process are different from intrastate or interstate practices. When entering into such a potentially overwhelming situation, it is helpful to have some guiding information and steps to prepare. Read on to learn more about international adoption laws in New Jersey and some tips on how to move thoughtfully and confidently through the international adoptions process.
New Jersey Laws on International Adoption
The process of adopting a child from a different country carries specific procedures in New Jersey. For the state to recognize an internationally adopted child as a New Jersey citizen, the child must meet two qualifications:
- First, the child must have at least one adoptive parent who is a New Jersey citizen;
- Second, the child must have a visa for legal immigration issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Once the family of the child has provided evidence of these two qualifications met and has offered to the State Register
- The child’s birth certificate; and
- The official copy of the judgment from the country in which the child was born,
the child will officially become a New Jersey citizen.
Tips for a Successful International Adoptions Process, Neptune
The process of deciding that you want to adopt is a long one. There is no rush in Love, and that’s precisely the state of being you’ll want to be inviting your new child into. Be honest and reflective as you consider international adoption. Allow the following questions to guide your review:
- Why do I want a child?
- What do I hope having a child from another country will bring to my life?
- What do I hope to bring to the life of a child from another country?
- What country do I want to adopt a child from? Why?
- What cultural and social norms and gems of the country’s culture do I want to ensure that my child grows up knowing and developing?
- Is adoption legal and ethical in the country I am considering?
- What can I do to support the child, my family, and myself in the transition, which can often be traumatizing?
Do Your Research
Throughout the entirety of your experience, from first considering adoption to bringing your new child home and beyond, you’ll want to make sure that you’re equipped with reliable information from reputable resources, as well as subjective testimonials from parents (and children) who have gone through this process. Nothing can prepare you emotionally to become an adoptive parent, but having a plethora of resources and experiences at your disposal to digest can only help you ensure that you make the correct decisions for your life and family.
Closely Consider Which Placement Agency You Want to Work With
An adoption or placement agency is the company that will serve as a liaison between you and the adoption agency in the child’s home country working to place the child. Legally, to become a New Jersey adoptive parent, you must work with a New Jersey placement agency. Choosing a placement agency is another area in which research is essential to facilitating a smooth and successful adoptions process. Read up on the agency’s self-proclaimed mission, ethics, and practices, and then read plenty of adoptive family reviews. VeryWellFamily.com recently published their top seven adoption agencies. These are just a handful of placement agencies. While these are just some of the available placement agencies that would have sectors in New Jersey, it’s a reputable place to start your research.
Elect Your Home Study Agency
Once you have begun the adoption process by entering into a contract with a placement agency and empowering them to start to make contacts in your chosen country, you’ll be responsible for completing a home study with a licensed agency or social worker. Your home study is your opportunity to share who you are as a person or family and what type of circumstances the child you wish to adopt will come into.
The home study agency must be licensed for the work in New Jersey, and in some cases, they must be a Hague-approved agency. Be thorough in your background research as you align your adoption placement agency and your home study agency, as some adoption agencies only work with specific home study agencies. Additionally, as noted above, some countries from which you may be looking to adopt a child – countries that have signed the Hague agreement – will only agree to adoption processes with home study agencies that have signed the Hague agreement.
Considering International Adoption? Contact our NJ Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
If you are considering international adoption, it is essential to have skilled legal representation. It is an important decision and you need to cover all fronts. At our Brick, NJ offices, our team of attorneys will take the time to ensure you have all you need to move forward in the right direction. If you are engaged in the adoption process, we can help you walk through and effectively navigate the road ahead.
Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free consultation and get the answers and the information you need to make a well-informed decision regarding your international adoption case. If you need assistance in Lakewood, Howell, Point Pleasant, Belmar, Lacey, Toms River, or another town in South Jersey, reach out to us, and let’s talk.
Open vs. Closed Adoption Attorneys Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
Adoption and Family Law Attorney serving Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank, and across the Jersey Shore
If you or a friend or a family member are thinking about adopting a child, you need to know more about open vs. closed adoption.
Closed adoption began during the 1900s when many states began sealing adoption records to protect newly adopted families’ privacy. “Closed adoption” is when a child’s birth and adoptive parents do not know one another’s names or contact information. This gradually became the norm in the United States.
New Jersey joined this trend in 1941, and between then and 2017, the only way to open sealed adoption records in the state was to get a court order. But this was often difficult. Adoptees wishing to learn about their family history, and birth parents hoping to see how their child was doing, and adoptive families wanting to know a child’s history for medical reasons, all faced severe obstacles.
In recent years, people have moved toward greater openness in adoption. More birth parents are expressing a desire to stay in contact with their child to some degree. They may not raise the child, but they do not want to give up all hope of knowing how the child is doing. The idea of going through life without the ability to let the child know they are open to future contact can be profoundly painful to birth parents.
Many adoptive families have proven to be sensitive to these issues. They know that the birth parents made a heartbreakingly difficult decision to give up their child for adoption, and they want to make that decision a little easier for birth parents. Adoptive parents also realize that their growing adopted child might at some point wish to know more about their social, historical, and biological roots.
“Open Adoption” Has Several Definitions
“Open adoption” has meanings across a spectrum, from less open to very open. It can mean that the adoptive family sends the birth family an occasional update and photo. It can mean the adoptive family grants the birth family regular visitation with the child.
In fact, in most private adoptions currently, there is communication between the two families, at least for some period of time following the adoption. Usually, actual visitation is more common when a relative, close friend, or step-family adopts the child. But birth and adoptive families who start as strangers also do sometimes work out visitation arrangements. This is usually done during the adoption process.
Adoptees’ Original Birth Certificates
If you or a loved one is planning to adopt, here’s something else you need to know.
A law passed in January 2017 grants adults born in New Jersey, who were adopted as children, the right to obtain an uncertified, long-form copy of their original birth certificate from the State Registrar, otherwise known as the New Jersey Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics and Registry.
The people who can also access the birth certificate include the adult’s adoptive parents; legal guardians or other legal representatives; the adult’s direct descendants, siblings, and spouses; and state and federal agencies with official reasons.
Because of the new adoption records system put in effect by the law, birth parents are permitted to file a document indicating their preference regarding future contact with a child they have surrendered for adoption. The stated preference can be for direct contact, contact through an intermediary, or no contact. It can be revised at any time. Birth parents submitting a contact preference form must at the same time submit updated medical, cultural, and social family history information. Those indicating a preference for no contact are required to update the family history information every 10 years before reaching age 40 and every five years after that.
Under the new law, birth parents who wished to maintain their anonymity could do so in adoptions completed before August 1, 2015. They needed only to file a request for redaction of their name and other identifying information before December 31, 2016. They are permitted to rescind this request at any time. For all adoptions completed after August 1, 2015, long-form birth certificates, without the birth parents’ identities redacted, are available to those granted access (see the list above).
Under the new law, adoptive parents now have access to their child’s birth information from the beginning of the adoption, but the child does not have access until age 18. Birth parents can indicate their preference regarding contact but do not have the legal right to control whether contact occurs. The amount of contact a birth parent has with a minor child is left to the adoptive parents’ discretion.
Get Your Agreement in Writing
Putting your adoption agreement into writing is a good idea whether you are a birth parent or an adoptive parent. A written agreement clarifies all parties’ intentions and provides a foundation for the process to go smoothly.
You need to be aware, however, that New Jersey courts do not currently enforce such agreements. Once parental rights are transferred to the adoptive parents, these are the people who have the final say about who is involved in the child’s life until the child reaches the majority’s age.
Contact a Toms River Adoption Attorney Today
If you or someone you know needs legal assistance with an adoption, we can help. Our family law attorneys can provide dedicated and reliable legal representation. For information and advice regarding any adoption-related issue, schedule your free consultation today. Secure your family’s future. Call 732-812-3102
Adoption Attorneys and Parental Rights for Stepparents Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
With the growing number of divorces and single parents finding love again, blended families become increasingly common.
A bond that develops between a stepchild and a stepparent can be extremely close and could be as strong as that of a biological parent and child. Civil union dissolutions and divorce dissolves a marriage, but not parental rights, thus allowing parents’ biological parents to maintain their parental rights to their child. Unfortunately, stepparents who find themselves in the same situation have few legal rights or protections, or inherent child custody options, or visitation rights without pursuing adoption.
Alternatively, the Family Court may view a strong, healthy relationship between the child and the stepparent as beneficial in terms of the child’s best interests. In unique situations like these, the court may favor the stepparent over one of the biological parents, thus positively creating tri-parenting opportunities that give the children a well-rounded and healthy childhood or negatively create parental alienation.
Divorce and high-conflict custody battles are tough, life-changing, and stressful, and children should be shielded from acrimony. If divorce and adoption have not taken place, there are still actions a New Jersey child custody and visitation attorney can take on your behalf to ensure your family’s rights and future are secure. Contact the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC online now to make sure your stepparent rights are protected.
Stepparent Adoptions May Mean The Relinquishing of Parental Rights in NJ
Even if the biological parent against whom the stepparent is seeking a divorce is an unfit parent, the law states that in such a situation, the custody of the child should revert to the other biological parent, not to the stepparent. Although there are some minimal exceptions, it is not totally impossible for a stepparent to sometimes gain custody of a stepchild. If a stepparent believes that both parents are unfit and can demonstrate that abuse has occurred, a stepparent may be able to successfully request custody if he or she can also show that ending a relationship between the child and the stepparent would be detrimental to the child. However, a stepparent should be aware that a court will almost always prefer a blood relative to be the custodian of a child, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.
Particularly noteworthy, in 2014’s K.A.F. v. D.L.M., the NJ Family Court recognized that it was in the child’s best interests to maintain a relationship with a “psychological parent,” a same-sex couple who were ending a civil union. Thus issues raised during this case may be used to defend the rights of a stepparent in other kinds of child custody cases.
The only sure way for a stepparent to be guaranteed to request custody or visitation is to adopt the child. To complete a stepparent adoption, the spouse of the stepparent must agree. If the adoption is completed, the law views the stepparent as the biological and legal parent of the stepchild with the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent.
Creative Options to Relinquishing Parental Rights & Understanding Stepparents’ Rights
The relinquishing of parental rights is really a worst-case scenario option. A different and effective option that can help you better understand and protect your rights is putting a child custody agreement that will grow and change in different situations as solutions may present themselves. In essence, as long as you are putting your stepchild’s best interests first, you can have the reassurance that the solution you choose is the right one.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC team of family law attorneys are devoted to helping parental figures, and the children in their life maintain their relationships. If you or a friend is facing a change in your family life, please schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your rights and plan of action.
Is a Stepparent Financially Obligated to Pay Child Support in NJ?
Stepparents don’t have a specific financial obligation to provide for their stepchild. Generally, NJ Child Support Guidelines calculations do not consider the stepparent’s income or financial situation. The only exception being, if the stepparent adopts the stepchild.
In the event of an adoption, as the child’s legal parent, with all of the same rights and responsibilities of a natural parent, the stepparent could either gain custody of the child or be ordered to pay child support.
Consult a Monmouth Stepparent Parental Rights & Adoption Attorney Today
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our New Jersey family law attorneys are skilled in supporting families across Asbury Park, Wall, Manasquan, Neptune, Spring Lake, and surrounding towns as they undergo the process of negotiating child custody agreements and parenting time schedules.
Our direct approach ensures that the best interests of the child and the rights of our parental clients are met incompatible ways.
Gestational vs Traditional Surrogacy
Our Monmouth and Ocean County Family Lawyers discuss Gestational Surrogacy
The call to become a parent is strong for many. Due to many circumstances and personal choices, those seeking to have children align with different methods to do so. There is, of course, traditional pregnancy, or in vitro fertilization. For some, gestational surrogacy is the most fitting option as the means of starting a family. The following information will support those considering gestational surrogacy.
What is the difference between traditional and gestational surrogacy?
Traditional surrogacy uses the egg of the surrogate; as such, in traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is the child’s biological mother. The surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the father and carries the baby to term. Because the surrogate is the child’s mother, there are more legal complications related to this process and more cases of the surrogate reneging on agreements with the adoptive parent(s), which are often not legally enforced.
Gestational surrogacy uses the egg of the adoptive mother, or of a donor. This egg is fertilized by the father’s sperm and then implanted in the surrogate’s uterus. Because the intended mother is biologically the child’s mother and only does not bring the baby to term in utero, gestational surrogacy is a more popular option among prospective parents.
Is there New Jersey law regarding gestational surrogacy?
Different states have different laws regarding surrogacy and reproductive rights and legal enforcement; there is no federal standard. New Jersey Law only applies to gestational surrogacy agreements. These agreements, drawn up by a reproductive rights lawyer, legalize the decision between intended parents and the surrogate to come together to bring a baby into the world and provide legally binding details on the arrangement. A legally binding agreement is important because studies show that gestational surrogacy leads to a higher rate of preterm births and multiple birth scenarios than traditional pregnancy. Such agreement details overview how ultrasounds and other medical appointments and the birth itself will be handled, including whether the intended parents will be invited to be present; what will happen in the case that there are multiple births; and what agreements are in place in the case of pregnancy developments that elevate risks, such as multiple babies or chromosomal disorders.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in every fifty pregnancies involved a gestational surrogate as an assisted birth form in 2016. Over a 14-year period at the beginning of the 21st century, there were 18,400 births from gestational surrogacy, and a whopping half of those were multiple births – twins, triplets, or higher.
Financial considerations of gestational surrogacy
In addition to considerations regarding gestation and the birth itself, any couple considering using a gestational surrogate must be prepared to address the financial and emotional effects of the process. Gestational surrogacy is not a cheap undertaking. The cost of the surrogacy process is generally around $100,000. This includes payment to the surrogate herself, as well as medical and legal costs. Any prospective parents will also consider the long-term needs of the child and family and take into account the cost of raising a child and savings necessary for college and other long-term goals.
Emotional considerations of gestational surrogacy
Like any serious decision, there are emotional byproducts of a life-changing move, and in order to make an informed choice, one must take emotional impact into account. The process leading up to deciding on a gestational surrogate often includes a roller coaster of fertility issues, failed attempts at getting pregnant, or miscarriage. In order to address the past journey that has led to a decision to use a surrogate, in addition to the present concerns and fears that are natural in the period before a new child is born, it is important to seek support in the form of a facilitated group or a therapist.
Having a reproductive lawyer is an essential element of ensuring that you’re adequately prepared to move forward with this life-changing decision, and can have a profound effect on your emotional stability throughout the process. They will help you ensure that the surrogate you choose is physically, emotionally, and legally prepared to enter into this binding agreement.
Family Law Attorneys serving parents in Brick and across Monmouth and Ocean County
At Peter J. Bronzino, our skilled legal team of reproductive attorneys is here to support families across Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in their decision to involve a gestational surrogate in their journey of family hood. Our unique approach is focused on ensuring that both the family and the gestational surrogate have all of the information and support they need to move forward in this partnership empowered and prepared.
Ocean and Monmouth County Adoption Lawyer
Serving Families in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Brick, NJ
The one area of Family Law that I really enjoy is adoptions. I really like bringing families together. We handle same-sex adoptions, step-parent adoptions, both contested and uncontested. We will be there every step of the way. Drafting the paperwork and guiding you through this momentous occasion. After the adoption is finalized, the adopting parent has the same rights to the child as a biological parent. This includes inheritance rights, as well as custody and child support rights if the biological parent and adopting parent are separate.
Contact us at our Brick or Sea Girt Office Locations
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we are helping many parents in the child adoption process across Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Jackson, and the greater Ocean County area.
Not all family attorneys possess the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate through many complex issues and circumstances that arise during any and all types of adoptions. Our managing partner Peter Bronzino has developed a skillset and an intimate understanding of the legal adoption process, that allows him to educate and guide prospective parents as they give a precious gift to their new child.
Brick NJ Lawyers Work For Safe Adoptions
You’ve made the decision!: You’re ready to adopt a child and share your home, your love, your life.
Now the only big remaining uncertainty is: “Can an adoption be undone?”…
Get an attorney who knows Monmouth and Ocean County adoption laws
First, hire a reputable family law adoption attorney who is thoroughly familiar with New Jersey laws. In order to ensure that your adoption is not vulnerable to being reversed, it’s tremendously important for you, and for your new child, to be certain that your adoption is completed properly. This means having not only an experienced attorney who knows all the ins and outs of New Jersey adoption laws, but one who is committed to looking out for your family’s future.
The Bronzino Law Firm is serving New Jersey families with experienced attorneys. The Firm has been instrumental in creating secure and happy families in many communities across Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
In this article we will answer this “secure adoption“question by looking at how courts generally view the permanency of adoptions. We will also touch upon the infrequent, but most common circumstances that might lead to a reversal.
Peter J. Bronzino has a reputation for thoroughness and dedication to clients. You can be sure that he will ensure that your adoption is a strong one because it is put together properly.
Can your Toms River NJ adoption be contested and reversed?
The short answer is almost never. Assuming that you and the biological parents followed an unwavering legal adoption procedure, it can never be overturned.
No exceptions?, you ask.
That’s right! There are no exceptions in a legal adoption.
However, and this is why an experienced attorney is so important. If the adoption was processed incorrectly, incompletely, or illegally, then your happy adoption story could be vulnerable. Under New Jersey family law an adoption can be overturned only under the very specific circumstances, which essentially would mean that it wasn’t arranged legally. Pay attention to three areas in particular:
• That the overall adoption process to ensure it follows legal procedures at every step;
• To ensure that the birth mother (or other legal guardian) does not feel she is being coerced/forced to sign away her rights and give up her child;
• That parental consent (preferably from both biological parents) is obtained and appropriate counseling is offered to the biological parents. Parental consent is the legal termination of their parental rights; it must be obtained properly.
What happens if the birth father isn’t identified and doesn’t give consent?
The biological father sometimes pops up saying he didn’t know about the child, he never relinquished his parental rights and the child was put up for adoption without his consent. Typically, the court’s perspective is “no excuses”; it was his duty to know.
As a result, an alleged father who claims that he did not know of his child until after the birth or adoption, still usually does not have a legal claim to the child. In New Jersey courts, parenthood is considered to begin at the earliest moments of pregnancy or at the latest, at birth; but not when the father learns about the child. What’s more, if an alleged father denies his paternity at any time, including prior to the baby’s birth, his paternal parental rights are considered to be automatically surrendered.
Monmouth County Grandparent rights or Native American adoptions
Other special situations can include legal rights that can possibly apply to the grandparents, if they are known.
A second and less common circumstance is around the adoption of a Native American child. Such an adoption must be processed according to tribal laws and terms for adoption in the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Details of the processes and the laws guiding adoption procedures are strict and can change.
To secure your future family, involve an adoption lawyer who is an expert in New Jersey’s family laws.
The Court is focused on “child’s best interests” for every New Jersey adoption
The nature of courts is to move in a forward motion with a constant focus on the best interests of the child. Therefore, courts consider adoption orders to be just as final as giving birth. No backtracking, no reversing of history or going back in time as far as the actual legal assignment of parenthood. Once the court declares the adoption to be final, the child is permanently yours to care for, love and raise.
This permanency applies to you as adoptive parents, too. A petition by adoptive parents to overturn their adoption is not likely to fly with a judge either. Just because life circumstances change or a family relationship has permanently broken down (i.e. divorce); you can’t undo an adoption –in the same way that you can’t reverse a birth.
However, there are some circumstances when adoptive parents have undone an adoption. Again, a court’s focus will always be on the child’s best interests. A compelling reason which illustrates that it’s in the adopted child’s best interests to reverse a finalized adoption is required. For example, a court might decide it’s in a child’s best interests to dissolve an adoption if one of the parents is diagnosed with a terminal illness or the child has significant medical needs, and the adoptive parents can’t afford the necessary treatments.
Illegal Activities may put Adoption at risk
A high demand for healthy newborns combined with a large number of qualified and anxious, potential adoptive parents; creates a setting for illegal activity. There are situations that might pave the wave to trouble.
It is imperative that you arrange your adoption with an expert who knows the law and practices in New Jersey.
Be informed, reduce risks…
- First, do your research, work with a reputable NJ adoption agency (licensed and bonded), get an expert family law attorney and do reference checks.
- Second, it is illegal in every state to pay exorbitant amounts of money upfront in order to proceed with an adoption.
In fact, a demand for upfront payments is a red flag alerting you to a possible scam or other type of illegal activity. At worse, you could end up not only losing the baby, but also find yourselves facing criminal charges if the truth comes to light. Needless to say (but we will say it), “baby buying” is illegal within the United States. It follows, then, that the adoption would be determined to be illegal.
Contact the the family law offices in Brick and Sea Girt
Bronzino Law Firm, LLC and arrange for an initial consultation at no charge. Find out the facts on how the adoption process will proceed with your chosen child.
After you sign adoption papers, you’re the parents! Adopted children sometimes fear that someday someone will appear in their lives and try to take them away from their parents who they love. It’s your job to reassure your child that the adoption procedure is permanent, so do it right.
No matter what your circumstances are, whether you use a public or private adoption agency, or whether you adopt internationally or within the country, your first act as parents is to become aware of the laws and processes guiding adoptions. All paperwork must be examined and authorized by a lawyer: lives depend upon it.