Nassau County Stepparent Adoption
Stepparent adoption can be easier than other adoptions in some ways. There is no waiting period, and there is no examination of the home, because the child is already living there. However, a stepparent adoption has its own hurdles to overcome, the biggest one being obtaining consent from the noncustodial biological parent. With a few exceptions without the consent of the birth parent, it is not likely that the adoption will be permitted. A good Nassau County stepparent adoption lawyer can help you through every step of the process.
If the noncustodial parent is not active in the child’s life, stepparent adoption can have many advantages. Perhaps the most important is to strengthen the family bonds and make the child feel wanted and loved. From a legal perspective, after adoption, the law looks on the parent/child relationship exactly the same as it does for a biological parent and child. Once the adoption is final, the stepparent has all the parental and financial responsibilities of a biological parent. This gives the child inheritance rights to the stepparent’s estate. The child is now entitled to be on the stepparent’s health insurance plan the same as a biological child. It also means that if something happens to the biological parent, the spouse who is the stepparent retains parental rights to the child and therefor retains custody. Grandparents or other relatives would not be able to take the child away from the stepparent without a very good reason such as abuse. Once the child is adopted, the child’s birth certificate may be changed to replace the biological parent’s name with that of the stepparent.Filing a Petition for Stepparent Adoption
If you would like to adopt your spouse’s child, your attorney can petition the Nassau County court for stepparent adoption when you meet these requirements:
- You must be married to the child’s parent.
- You must have been a resident of New York for six months before petitioning for adoption. Bring proof of this to the final hearing. A driver’s license is an example of acceptable proof.
- Your address must be in the same county in which you file the petition.
You may file your petition either in Family Court or Surrogate Court. Your lawyer will need to submit all your documentation and consent forms (unless the adoption is contested) to the court. After that, a court date will be scheduled. If the biological parent consents and all papers are in order, the court hearing2 usually consists of little more than signing the adoption order.Consent of the Biological Parent
- When a biological parent consents that the spouse of the other parent may adopt their child, they give up their parental rights. This includes custody rights, visitation and any rights to be part of the decision making process regarding the child. Of course, once their parental rights are terminated, the biological parent need not pay child support. Only under special circumstances will a court terminate a biological parent’s parental rights in favor or adoption by a stepparent.
- The parent has not visited or otherwise communicated with the child for at least six months
- The parent cannot care for the child due to mental illness or mental retardation
- A court has appointed a guardian for the child according to social services law
- The parent previously denied paternity and signed an irrevocable legal document to that effect
Normally a court will make a decision based primarily on the best interests of the child along with other factors. However, if the child is over 14 years of age, the court will require the child’s consent.Nassau County Stepparent Adoption Lawyer
If you are a stepparent who would like to adopt your spouse’s child, be sure to consult with a Nassau County attorney who is experienced with stepparent adoption. Getting the consent of your stepchild’s other parent can be a complicated process, and you need a good lawyer on your side. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis& Associates has years of experience successfully representing clients who are seeking to adopt children, who have custody issues, and who have other family law matters. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.