New Jersey Family Law
Attorneys Handling Adoptions
Whether an independent adoption, a stepparent adoption, or a relative adoption, the adoption of a child is about building and strengthening family bonds. The family law attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., enjoy helping prospective parents expand their families through adoption. We work hand in hand with our clients every step of the way.
Experienced New Jersey Adoption Attorneys
While the adoption experience itself is usually a joyful one, depending upon the type of adoption, the process can be very stressful. There may be mounds of paperwork, home studies, and other complex issues with which to deal. When the termination of parental rights is involved, the situation is even more complicated and emotional.
Basic Requirements to Adopt in New Jersey
The following basic requirements must be met in order for you to adopt a child in New Jersey:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must be at least 10 years older than the child.
- You must be financially able to meet your household needs.
- You must get a positive evaluation from a home study.
A home study is an evaluation of the prospective parents. Among the factors considered are the physical and mental health of the adoptive parents, the environment in which the child will live, and the financial ability to meet the needs of the household.
Types of Adoption
Adoptions fall into two main categories:
- Approved Agency Adoptions
- Private Placement Adoptions
- Independent Adoption
- Stepparent Adoption
- Grandparent or Other Relation Adoption
- Single-Parent Adoption
- Same-Sex Adoption
- Interstate Adoption
- Re-adoption of International Children
Within those categories there are several types of adoption. The attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., have experience helping families involving each type. They include the following:
Whichever category best describes your situation, our knowledgeable lawyers are here to help.
Domestic Agency Adoption
Many New Jersey adoptions are done through licensed nonprofit child-placement agencies. In these cases, the birth mother has given up her parental rights and transferred them to the agency. Before placing a child in a home for adoption, the agency will conduct a home study to determine the fitness of the prospective parents. A home study is an evaluation of the prospective individual or couple to determine their fitness as prospective parents.
Domestic Private Adoption
Private, or independent, adoptions are usually between the child’s birth mother and possibly birth father and the prospective parent or parents. In an independent adoption the birth parent voluntarily surrenders the child directly to the adoptive parents. The only role played by a licensed agency is to conduct a home study to evaluate the parents.
Stepparent adoption can be very contentious. This is due to the fact that in many cases in order for it to be achieved, one parent must terminate his or her rights—often against that parent’s wishes.
Involuntary termination of parental rights is complicated. It may involve providing evidence that the parent who is being asked to relinquish the rights did not have contact with the child or did not pay child support for that child for a specified period of time. If the parent’s whereabouts are not known, it is necessary to make every effort to locate him or her.
Grandparent or Other Relative Adoption
Sadly, there are situations in which a child’s natural parents are either unwilling or unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities. Some circumstances that might lead to this unfortunate situation include physical or mental illness, financial difficulties, and incarceration.
If both parents agree to relinquish their parental rights, then adoption by a grandparent or other relative is usually relatively uncomplicated.
Single parents are eligible to adopt in every state; however, the specific qualifications vary. In New Jersey the prospective parent must be eighteen years of age or older and at least ten years older than the child. The parent-to-be must be in good physical and mental health and be financially able to support the child.
New Jersey was among the first states to prohibit discrimination against prospective adopting couples on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Same-sex adoption sometimes involves the adoption of the child of the other partner. When this can be accomplished, both parties have equal rights regarding important decisions affecting the child’s life.
When the birth mother or the licensed agency to whom the parental rights have been transferred resides in a different state from that of the prospective adoptive parents, then the adoption process is more complex.
First of all, legal requirements of both states must be met. In addition, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) governs all interstate adoptions and requires the filing of specific documentation.
Re-adoption of International Children
Because state courts are not required to automatically recognize an adoption decree of a foreign court, it is recommended that a child adopted abroad be re-adopted in the court of his or her state of residence.
Upon completion of re-adoption in New Jersey, a judgment of adoption will be issued. Once that occurs, the adoptive parents can get a birth certificate issued by the state of New Jersey. This birth certificate will be recognized in all 50 states.
Rights of the Natural Parents
When the adoption involves the involuntary relinquishing of parental rights, birth mothers; natural fathers, even if unwed; and other interested parties have the right to be heard at the adoption proceeding.
Rights of the Child
In all cases, the best interest of the child is paramount. If the child to be adopted is ten years of age or older, then he or she will be asked to appear in court unless there is reason to make an exception.
Skilled, Compassionate Legal Assistance
No matter what type of adoption fits your situation, the attorneys at Aretsky Law Group, P.C., are committed to providing legal advice and representation that prepare our clients for each step of the process. Our adoption lawyers will guide you along the way to ensure that all necessary requirements are completed in a timely manner.
Although we strive to make the adoption of a child proceed as smoothly as possible, we understand that there may be ups and downs. When the involuntary termination of rights is involved, we will work vigorously on your behalf.
If you are considering adoption or are in the middle of the process and feel you would benefit from the advice of a lawyer, please contact Aretsky Law Group, P.C., at 800-537-4154. We are available to take your call 24/7.