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Adult adoption in New Jersey is a legal process where a stepparent becomes the legal parent of their adult stepchild. This act creates a permanent, legally recognized relationship between the stepparent and the stepchild, identical to a biological parent-child relationship. Reasons for adult adoption vary: some seek to formalize an existing parental bond, while others might aim to ensure inheritance rights or simply to fulfill a long-held family wish. Read on and reach out to a seasoned Bergen County family lawyer from McNerney & McAuliffe to learn more about how to adopt your adult stepchildren in New Jersey and how our legal team can help guide you through the process. Here are some of the questions you may have:

How Do I Adopt My Adult Stepchildren?

Initiating the adoption process begins with an understanding of New Jersey’s legal requirements. Both the step-parent and the adult stepchild must consent to the adoption. Next, the stepparent must file a petition for adoption with the New Jersey Superior Court, specifically in the county where either they or the adult stepchild resides. This petition outlines the desire for adoption and affirms that the legal requirements are met.

What Legal Documents Are Required?

Several documents are necessary for filing the petition. These include the adoption agreement, which both parties must sign, indicating their mutual consent to the adoption. Additionally, the stepparent needs to provide a copy of their marriage certificate to the biological parent, thereby establishing the step-relationship. Identification documents and a copy of the stepchild’s birth certificate are also required.

Is a Court Hearing Necessary?

In most cases, a formal court hearing is part of the process. The hearing provides a platform for both parties to express their consent to the adoption. Here, the judge will assess the authenticity of the mutual agreement and ensure that the adoption is in the best interest of the parties involved. Once satisfied, the judge grants the adoption, legally formalizing the parent-child relationship.

What Are the Implications of Adult Adoption?

Post-adoption, the stepchild gains inheritance rights as a biological child would. The adopted adult stepchild and the adoptive parent will have the same legal rights and responsibilities as if they were biologically related. It’s important to note that this adoption severs any legal ties between the stepchild and their other biological parent, if any, regarding inheritance.

Are There Any Unique Considerations in New Jersey?

New Jersey law is quite straightforward regarding adult adoptions, but there are unique considerations to keep in mind. For instance, if the adult stepchild is married, their spouse must be notified of the adoption. The state also requires specific forms and legal documents, which may vary slightly from county to county. Therefore, working with a knowledgeable New Jersey family lawyer is crucial to navigate these nuances successfully.

Mark P. McAuliffe recently handled the adoption of three adult children by their stepfather in New Jersey. The hearing was joyous and celebratory for everyone involved and the Court graciously celebrated all family members.

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