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Step-Parent Adopting Children After A Divorce In NJ

There are many issues surrounding a divorce in New Jersey. From the time a couple decides that they will no longer remain married or one serves the other with divorce papers when the other spouse does not want the divorce, the process can take a long time and has many variables. If there are children involved, the divorce process takes on much more urgency with the need for child support and alimony provided from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to be decided. Other issues that have to be determined are visitation rights and how often the non-custodial parent will see the child.

In certain cases, there are non-custodial parents who are not interested or have a small interest in a relationship with the child or children on a post-divorce basis. There might be a situation where the non-custodial parent is simply unfit to have a relationship with the child. This is why one of the most frequent questions regarding a New Jersey divorce involves the adoption of children. After a couple has divorced and the custodial parent remarries, in many instances, the new stepparent would like to legally adopt his new spouse's children.

What Does A Step-Parent Adoption Entail?

father holding hand

If a step-parent adopts the custodial child of the new spouse, the step-parent is agreeing to take the responsibility as a parent of the child while the non-custodial parent no longer has any parental responsibility. This can happen if the non-custodial parent is no longer willing to be involved with the child or is declared unfit to be part of the child's life. The biological parent might be incarcerated or might simply have abandoned their child with no one knowing where he or she is. In certain cases, it has nothing to do with any abandonment or criminality on the part of the non-custodial, biological parent. The non-custodial parent might believe that the step-parent is better equipped to be a mother or father to the child and an adoption will make it legal under New Jersey law while removing all responsibility from the biological, non-custodial parent.

How Does A Step-Parent Adopt A Child In New Jersey?

The adoption must be in the best interests of the child before it will be approved by the State of New Jersey. The stepparent must be committed to the welfare of the child, must be at least 18-years-old and at least ten years older than the child. The non-custodial parent might not approve of the adoption and waive his or her rights to be the child's legal parent. In the event that happens, the non-custodial parent must be found to be an unfit parent in court. This can be achieved by proving that the non-custodial parent has failed to fulfill the parental role as reasonably expected or is not capable of filling the parental role and will not be able to do so in the foreseeable future. If the non-custodial parent has a relationship with the child and is a regular part of the child's life, it is unlikely that a step-parent adoption will be allowed.

Speak To A New Jersey Adoption Attorney

A divorce can be difficult for a child and if the non-custodial parent is either not capable or does not want to have a relationship with the child, it can result in a tragic situation. If the custodial parent happens to find another person to whom he or she would like to be married and that person would like to cease being a step-parent and wants to legally adopt the child or children, it can make the family whole again. Whether the non-custodial parent is willing to allow this to occur and all the parties would like the step-parent to be able to adopt, or if the case has to be proven that the non-custodial parent is unfit, Villani & DeLuca, P.C. can help.

Other Resources

Shared Parenting In New Jersey Divorces

Hiring A New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

Custodial Interference In An Monmouth County Divorce

Can a Parent Be Ordered to Support A Child in College?


Whether you are from Ocean County, Monmouth County or any other area of New Jersey, contact the experienced attorneys at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. to discuss your case of adopting a step-child and your case will be evaluated. Call 732-965-3404 today.

Vincent DeLuca, Esq.

As a founding partner at Villani & DeLuca, Vincent DeLuca is one of only a few Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey. Mr. DeLuca has helped many clients navigate the delicate details of their own divorce. Mr. DeLuca is also a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Call today at (732) 965-3404 to speak to Mr. DeLuca or one of our experienced NJ Divorce Lawyers.

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