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New York Stepparent Adoption Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I am considering adopting my stepchild. What are the legal advantages?

Along with the emotional advantages of bringing a family closer, there are practical and legal advantages to New York stepparent adoption. As your stepchild’s adoptive parent, you gain all the legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. It will make day to day life easier, such as being able to approve minor (and major) procedures at the doctor’s office. You will be able to add the child to your health insurance, which in some cases has a major impact on both finances and health care access. Should your spouse pass away, nobody can take the child away from you. The child becomes your legal heir with all the rights of a biological child.

Q. Must my stepchild’s other biological parent consent to the adoption?

A. Before you can adopt your stepchild, your child’s parent who is not your spouse must give up or lose their parental rights. If the parent consents to the adoption, they must give up their parental rights. This means they will have no rights whatsoever, not even a right to visit the child. If they do not consent to the adoption, in most cases, you will not be able to adopt the child. However, there are exceptions. If the parent is a danger to the child or has abandoned the child, a New York court will strip them of their parental rights.

Q. What are some of the reasons my spouse’s ex-spouse could lose parental rights?

A. If your child’s other biological parent has shown them little interest, the court may find that the parent has abandoned the child. If the parent has made no attempt to communicate for six months, the judge could terminate parental rights. Other ways a parent could lose parental rights are through mental illness or mental retardation if the court finds such termination to be in the child’s best interests. Of course, a court can also terminate parental rights if the parent presents a danger to the child such as being abusive or neglectful or being a drug addict.

Q. What are requirements for me to adopt my stepchild?

A. Other requirements in New York include

  • You must be legally married to the child’s parent in order to adopt your stepchild. You cannot just be living together.
  • New York has a residency requirement of six months before filing for the adoption. The court will want to see proof.
  • Your lawyer must file for adoption in the same county where you reside.
Q. Will it be complicated to adopt my stepchild?

A. If the child’s other biological parent consents, a stepparent adoption is easier than others and is mostly a matter of paperwork. For example there is no home visit because the child is already living in the home. Stepparent adoptions generally move much faster than other adoptions.

Q. Do I need my stepchild’s consent to adopt?

The older and more mature a child is, the more interested the court will be in their opinion on the adoption. After the child turns 14, their consent to the stepparent adoption is required in New York.

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My ex-husband hadn't paid child support or the mortgage on the house as he was supposed to. Stephen Bilkis and his team of lawyers were amazing. They stopped the foreclosure on the house, Got a judgment against him and most importantly kept me and my children in the house. Can't say enough good things about him in the firm their compassion hard work and dedication were exceptional. I.G.
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