Step-Parent Adoption in New Jersey

Most people would agree that every child should have two parents. There are times when one legal parent disappears on a child, or dies, and the other parent must raise the child alone. When the single parent enters into a new relationship with someone who acts as a parent to the child, often there is a desire to formalize the relationship with a step-parent adoption. This is the legal procedure where an adult becomes the legal parent of his or her spouse’s legal child.

Once the step-parent adoption occurs, there is no difference between an adopted child and a biological child, including for purposes of custody, child support, inheritance, and more. Once the adoption occurs, the legal relationship between the absent party and the child is permanently terminated, except in limited circumstances where that legal parent maintains some limited visitation rights. The reasons to adopt a step-child are many, but mostly it enables the adoptive parent to retain custody if something happens to the biological/legal parent, grants all important legal parent-child rights and grants inheritance rights.

The step-parent adoption process is relatively simple. Aside from court documents, the only investigation usually required is a criminal and child abuse background check. However, the adoption process can take several months, so it is important to get the process started well in advance of when you want it finalized. Notably, step-parent adoption is much easier when you have the consent of the absent parent, which is accomplished with a notarized signature on a few documents. If you do not have consent or worse, you do not know where he or she is located, the process can get much more complicated, and costly.

You need to have experienced legal help to navigate the step-parent adoption process to ensure it is done correctly and you do not run into any problems. There are always possible roadblocks, like the absent parent showing up at the last minute, but an experienced attorney can give you the best chance to end the process with a successful adoption. Our attorneys are experienced at completing step-parent adoptions. If you have any questions or are interested in us helping you through the process, please call us at 732-479-4711.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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