Sussex County Adoption Attorneys
Adoption is one of the many areas of family law that combines complicated legal processes with a tumultuous and often stressfully emotional experience. If successful, adoptions often provide a lifetime of satisfaction and enjoyment for the parents and children concerned, but if they are less than 100% successful, there is often significant legal and emotional fallout to deal with. So, adoptions require a specialized approach, especially given the tangled web of laws on the subject in New Jersey. If you are considering adopting a child in New Jersey, consider reaching out to an experienced family law attorney for help to make a stressful experience a bit easier on you and your family.
The compassionate attorneys at Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. understand both the emotional and legal aspects of the often convoluted adoption process in the state of New Jersey. For the reason, we start with solid legal advice that you can rely on, and then follow up with dynamic action. Throughout the legal process, our clients are our partners because perhaps even more than in some other parts of family law, successful adoption is a collaborative effort.
There are so many adoption agencies in New Jersey that it is often difficult to find the right one for your family. Fortunately, our family lawyers are able to assist you in finding the adoption agency best suited to your individual needs.
After meeting with a caseworker, the adoption agency performs a home study, which includes both individual and joint interviews of the adoptive parents. Furthermore, prospective adoptive parents must assemble a number of documents, including things like:
- Medical records
- Financial statements
- An autobiography
- Reference letters
- Required state forms, such as a criminal history record.
Once the adoption is approved, a caseworker matches the adoptive parents with birth parents.
Because agency adoptions usually involve comparatively little contact between the birth and adoptive families, these procedures are sometimes less emotionally involved. However, that benefit can also be a drawback because, in many cases, the only information the adoptive family receives about the child and his or her birth parents is what the agency chooses to disclose.
Agencies are still involved in most private adoptions, usually for purposes of a home study and facilitating state-required paperwork. Otherwise, there is considerably more contact between the birth parents and adoptive families in the private adoption process.
Many times, this contact begins in the early stages of the birth mother’s pregnancy. In terms of financial assistance, many states sharply limit the money that the adoptive family can give the birth mother during this period. But in New Jersey, adoptive families may pay:
- All legal expenses
- Any uninsured medical expenses
- Reasonable living expenses.
These payments can continue until four weeks after delivery.
Private adoptions also include waivers of parental rights. The birth mother can sign an irrevocable waiver 72 hours after the baby’s birth. However, the waiver may not completely sever the rights of other relatives, including the father and grandparents.
Adoptive families that are bringing children from outside New Jersey into their homes, whether the child is from another state or another country, must comply with a different set of requirements entirely.
While we cannot practice law outside the state of New Jersey, our attorneys can easily connect you with a professional in another state who can provide such advice. This step is an important one because a violation of any jurisdiction’s laws could invalidate the entire process.
Adoption from a foreign country is technically a re-adoption because there is a proceeding both in the child’s home country and here in New Jersey, as well. In this way, the child will have a United States birth certificate, and the adoptive parents will have a New Jersey order that is easier to enforce. Timing is often critical in these cases, as it is important to conclude the foreign adoption quickly and then immediately consummate the process in New Jersey. When navigating this complex legal process, it is always beneficial to have a knowledgeable attorney advocating for the best interests of you and your family.
Typically, relative adoption proceedings are either family adoptions or stepparent adoptions.
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives may adopt children whom, for whatever reasons, have birth parents who can no longer care for them. Some of these reasons may include:
- Serious illness
- Financial hardship
- Substance abuse
Family adoptions require a termination of parental rights. Voluntary terminations are subject to the 72-hour waiting period discussed above, and furthermore, the biological parent must clearly understand that the termination is irrevocable. Involuntary terminations must be in the best interest of the child, and are usually premised on domestic violence, abandonment, failure to rectify issues that triggered emergency child removal, or certain serious criminal convictions on behalf of the birth parents.
While home studies are mandatory in almost all family adoptions, they are normally unnecessary in stepparent adoptions because the child is usually already living with the stepparent. Many families take this step for emotional reasons because it unites the new family and also provides stability. Without an adoption, if something happens to the biological parent, the stepparent would have no legal parental rights to the stepchild.
The other biological parent must either voluntarily relinquish parental rights, or a court must remove these rights. The adoptive stepparent then becomes fully responsible for the child, in an emotional, legal, and financial sense.
Connect With Experienced Attorneys
Families pondering adoption have a number of legal options. When considering these options, prospective adoptive parents might feel overwhelmed during an already stressful and emotional time. If you are considering adoption, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Sussex County, contact Hollander, Strelzik, Pasculli, Hinkes, Vandenberg & Hontz, L.L.C. We routinely handle adoption and family law matters in Sussex County and throughout Northern New Jersey.
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