NJ Adoptions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Adoption in New Jersey

Q: How can my spouse adopt my child from a previous relationship?

A: Adoption laws vary a lot from state to state, and adoption is an area of law where technical compliance with the law is very important. You’d be wise to at least consult with a qualified New Jersey adoption attorney for specifics about the law in New Jersey.

A stepparent adoption in NJ requires that the parent whose relationship and rights are being terminated consent to the adoption. Usually the parent must sign a document consenting to the adoption, and usually the parent has a “window” of time in which to void that document, or the custodial parent has a time period in which to bring the adoption action before the court. In some states, the document may not be revoked once it’s signed by the parent.

If the parent won’t sign the document, a New Jersey court will need to approve the termination of the parent’s relationship and rights.

Even where the parent has consented in New Jersey, a court will need to find the adoption to be in the child’s best interest. The factors the court will look at vary. The stability of the custodial parent’s marriage is one factor.

The adoption will normally terminate almost all ties that the parent has to the child, and provide those ties to the adoptive parent. These ties include rights to custody and visitation, the obligation to provide support, and, frequently, inheritance rights of the child and the adults.

Q: Can I collect child support from the biological father if my husband has adopted my son?

A: In NJ, your ex-husband has no obligation to support your son after the adoption. However, the adoption normally wouldn’t alter any child support arrearage that accumulated before the adoption, so your ex-husband will still be liable for support that was unpaid prior to the adoption.

The adoption terminates the legal relationship between the parent and the child, and creates a legal relationship between the adoptive parent and the child. It is that relationship which is the source of the obligation to pay support.

Q: Will I be able to contact my grandson after he’s adopted?

A: An adoption normally will terminate the relationship between the child and the parent, but in New Jersey, it does not terminate the legal relationships between the child and other relatives, like grandparents. New Jersey has a “grandparent’s rights” statute which protects the rights of New Jersey grandparents.

It’s possible the parents of the child may allow contact; it’s possible they will not.

Because adoption law and grandparent rights law is almost entirely state law, you really should consult with NJ adoption law attorney, Fredrick P. Niemann at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.

Q:  With a Stepparent Adoption, What are the Rights of Grandparents of a Child in NJ?

A: Grandparent Visitation Rights are Protected in NJ

Grandparents of birth parents have protected rights to visitation of their grandchildren if visitation is in the best interest of the child.  An adoption by a stepparent cannot alone extinguish a grandparent’s statutory right to visitation nor can an adoption eliminate a grandparents’ visitation rights though they can arguably affect those rights.  Thus, the Courts in New Jersey have permitted grandparents to intervene in adoption cases since they have an interest that may be prejudiced or affected by the entry of a judgment of adoption.

Q: I was adopted shortly after my birth. Am I able to access my adoption records?

A: Accessing adoption records will depend on the relevant state’s law. Some states protect the privacy of birth parents by allowing them to seal the records. Such records can only be opened with the consent of the birth parents. Other states allow the adopted child to access the records. State law may require that the adopted child be a certain age before allowing access to the records.

Q:  What About Interstate Adoptions Involving NJ Children?

A:  Adopting a child from another state is permitted in New Jersey through interstate compact governing the placement of children (ICPC).  The ICPC applies when a child is to be moved across state lines to be adopted. The ICPC requires that the sending agency notify the appropriate public authorities in the receiving state of its intention to place a child in that state.   In New Jersey, the authority to be notified is the Department of Human Services.

Fredrick P. Niemann Esq.

Do you have questions about adoption in New Jersey?  If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at

(855) 376-5291 or fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

to schedule a consultation about your particular needs.  He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him easy to talk to and very approachable.

 

Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Adoption Attorney