Nassau County Family Law Blog

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Look at Stepparent Adoption in New York

How do I get started with adopting my stepchild in New York?

Millions of families across the United States include stepparents.  Stepparent adoption is the most common type of adoption nationally, and thousands of new stepfamilies are created every day.  In New York, stepparents often seek to adopt their stepchildren to establish a permanent legal bond that will be critical to their future.

Stepparent adoptions are easier and can happen faster than other types of adoption, but like any adoption they require stringent adherence to deadlines and completion of several vital steps.  If you are a stepparent looking to adopt your stepchild, consult with a Nassau County, New York adoption lawyer as soon as possible.  

Stepparent Adoptions in New York

Your journey to adopting your stepchild begins with consulting with a knowledgeable adoption attorney.  Your attorney will explain the stepparent adoption process in-depth and complete the necessary forms.  The forms necessary to complete your New York adoption will depend in part on the unique circumstances surrounding the adoption, including whether termination of parental rights is necessary.

To complete a stepparent adoption in New York, you will need to first terminate the parental rights of the non-spouse parent, unless this parent is deceased.  The absent parent is allowed to voluntarily forfeit their parental rights and responsibilities.  If the parent refuses to take this step, you will need to seek a court order to terminate parental rights.  Several grounds exist for termination of parental rights, including abandonment of the child, incarceration, and mental illness.  You will need to prove to the court why termination of the parental rights of the absent parent is in the best interests of the child.  

As the adopting stepparent, you will be undertaking financial and legal responsibility for the child.  By adopting the child, you are releasing the non-spouse biological parent of his or her parental responsibilities.  Stepparent adoption is a wonderful thing that provides you with legal ties to your stepchild, but it can be a complicated process and has long term implications.  Your stepparent adoption should only be completed with the help of an experienced adoption lawyer.

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