Adoption comes in many forms, ranging from the international adoption of a child you’ve never met before to the adoption of a sibling’s child after their death. All forms of adoption give a child who needs love and support legal ties to adults who can care for them.
One of the more common forms of adoption is stepparent adoption. When you marry someone who already has children, those children become part of your family. A New Jersey stepparent may decide that they want to become a legal parent with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with that role.
However, stepparent adoption is a little bit different than other forms of adoption because it often involves an extra step.
Both biological parents have to approve a stepparent adoption
If your spouse is a widow or widower whose co-parent died, then this rule does not apply to you. The same is true for scenarios where the state has terminated someone’s parental rights.
However, even if someone has not shown up for visitation in years or is currently in prison, they still have parental rights. You will need to have that parent sign over their rights and approve your adoption in order for it to move forward. It can sometimes be difficult to convince the biological parents to approve it adoption request, but it is possible.
Talking with your spouse before you take any other steps is usually a good place to start exploring whether stepparent adoption would work for your family. From there, you need to contact the other biological parent and then initiate court proceedings to finalize the process. An attorney can help you.