Do you need help with an adoption in New Jersey?

Written by Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a New Jersey Adoption Attorney

Here’s a General Overview to New Jersey Adoption Laws

njadoptionsAdopting a child is an exciting time.  It is likely to be a stressful period for everyone involved, both prospective parent(s) and child.

A trusted and experienced NJ adoption lawyer can help with the process. Our firm has counseled prospective parents and individuals, including birth mothers, about the formalities and requirements of state, multi-state and international adoptions, including the re-adoption of foreign born children.

PERSONS WHO MAY ADOPT IN NEW JERSEY

Prospective adopting persons must have the capacity to meet the child’s physical and emotional needs and be of good physical and mental health.

The law in NJ mandates that an approved agency must use the best interests of the child as the standard in selecting adoptive parents. Furthermore, an adoption agency may not discriminate with respect to the selection of adoptive parents for any child on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, religion or marital status alone but these factors may be considered in determining whether the best interests of the child are served by a particular placement or adoption.

At Hanlon Niemann, we’re experienced, knowledgeable and equally important, sensitive. We really do understand . . . we’re parents too.

If you need advice on the adoption process in New Jersey (including adult adoptions) or would like to talk to a person you can feel safe in sharing your feelings, questions and concerns about NJ adoption, call me, Fredrick P. Niemann, at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  My hope is to make your dream tomorrow’s reality.

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LAW GOVERNING ADOPTIONS IN NEW JERSEY

The adoption of children is governed by New Jersey Statutes which seek to promote a state policy of promoting the best interest of the child.  The “best interest of the child” standard controls the adoption process.

NJ adoption law creates a legally binding relationship of parent and child between persons who are not each other’s biological parent or child.

In addition to state laws, New Jersey has case law that govern adoptions.  It is largely an interpretation product of NJ statutes and evolving legal opinions.

There are also different ways a legal adoption can take place in New Jersey. Whether you decide go through an adoption agency or to adopt from a private person, a judgment of adoption usually means that the legal relationship of the adopted child is completely severed with its biological parents and family. Legally, the adopted child becomes the child of his or her adoptive parents.

Call us today to discuss the adoption process in New Jersey.

Ask for Fredrick P. Niemann – toll-free (855) 376-5291

or email Fred at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

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Actual Client Testimonial

Mr. Niemann has been a wonderful attorney to me. I feel confident with his advice and what he tells me. When I visit his office, I feel welcomed. His staff is always pleasant and very friendly. I feel fortunate to have Fredrick Niemann as my attorney.

—Cecelia Lamicella, Freehold, NJ

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Adopting a child in NJ is the highest form of self-giving and commitment by an adult to a child. It is likely to also be a stressful period for everyone involved. You need a trusted advisor. That’s us.

Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. and the adoption attorneys at Hanlon Niemann want you to stay together. We’ve counseled prospective parents and individuals, including birth mothers, about the formalities and requirements of New Jersey state, multi-state and international adoptions, including the re-adoption of foreign born children.

THINGS TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR NEW JERSEY ADOPTION LAWYER

When you’re starting the adoption process in NJ, there are a number of things to think about. Here’s a checklist of things you’ll want to discuss with your NJ adoption law attorney:

  • If it’s a private adoption, have you already made promises and commitments to the birthparent, such as payment of specific bills, etc.?  If so, it’s important to make sure your lawyer knows the details.
  • Try to determine the costs of agency services and paperwork processing in international adoptions as soon as possible, so that you can plan to have the money available when you need it.
  • If you’re adopting a child from another country, find out whether the attorney also handles immigration matters. If not, you’ll need to find an additional attorney who specializes in immigration as well.

Will You Adopt Locally, Interstate or From a Foreign Country?

Foreign adoptions can have waiting lists, sometimes age restrictions, and they usually involve traveling to the child’s birth country. On the other hand, children of foreign adoptions have already been determined “adoptable and available,” which might not be the case with local adoptions.

If you’re adopting a child born in another state, you must follow that state’s adoption laws and procedures and the intestate adoption compact.

Next you need to decide whether to go through an adoption agency or a private party, such as the birth parent. Usually, an agency has already obtained an order relinquishing or terminating the rights of the birth parents, which saves worrying over whether the birth parents will change their minds.

On the other hand, being patient and going through a private adoption process may bring you a child who wouldn’t be available through an agency.

Private adoptions can be “open” or “closed”. Open adoptions mean the birth parent keeps in touch with the child, through letters and photos or visits. A birth parent going through a private adoption is sometimes looking specifically for adoptive parents who’ll support an open arrangement.

Consider what age child you would like to adopt. There are many older, special-needs children waiting for loving homes right now, without any wait.

If you’re a stepparent adopting a stepchild, you face different considerations. If the child is a minor, can you get the consent of the other biological parent? If you’re adopting a teenager, will the stepchild consent to the adoption? Will adopting your stepchild mean the end of child support from the parent whose rights are being terminated?

Aside from attorney fees, the costs of adoption vary greatly.

For an infant, you’ll probably end up paying the medical bills of the birth mother, plus potentially other expenses permitted by the adoptive state of guardianship. With foreign adoptions, you’ll likely pay for the process in both the child’s country and your local court, plus the cost of immigration for your child.

If you’re working with a private placement, find out if there is an attorney for the birth parent. If so, you may want to hire your own attorney to make sure you’re not taken advantage of when it comes to medical bills, support of the birth mother, and other costs.

What’s Next?

The legal processing of an adoption can be slow. While procedures vary by state and country, here’s a general guideline for New Jersey adoptions:

Just before or after filing a Complaint for Adoption, you’ll go through a pre-placement evaluation. A social worker or licensed agency person will ask questions about your family history, health, and family resources. This experience can be anxious, but hang in there.  You’re not alone.  The evaluation is intended to make sure that your home is suitable for a child and that you can provide for the child’s best interests.  Be honest with your answers.

You need to obtain the consent of the birth parents, or go through another process to terminate their parental rights if they’re unwilling to consent. If a birth parent is a minor, the court appoints an advocate or guardian to protect their rights and to ensure they’re not being coerced into relinquishing their child. If a birth mother is married, her husband may be the presumed father (whether or not he’s the actual biological father), and you need to obtain his consent as well as the consent of the biological father.

In the case of an infant, you can go to court for a relinquishment hearing shortly after a child’s birth (usually at least two days later). Then you can take the child home and begin a new life together.

Later on, a social worker will do a post-placement study to make sure that the child is being adequately cared for and everyone’s adjusting.

Sometime later, a final decree of adoption will be entered. After that, the decree can be set aside only if the birth parent can prove that their consent was obtained under fraud or duress, or that there was some defect in the process that invalidates the entire proceeding. This is very rare. The more time passes, the less likely a court will overturn an adoption decree.

When the decree of adoption is entered, the court will make arrangements to have the child’s birth certificate changed to name you as the child’s parent, just as if you were the birth parent.

From then on, your adoptive child enjoys all the legal privileges of any child born to you, including any rights of inheritance.

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Fred Niemann, New Jersey Adoption Lawyer

Do you have questions about adoption in New Jersey?  If so, contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at

(855) 376-5291 or fniemann@hnlawfirm.com

to schedule a consultation about your particular needs.  He welcomes your calls and inquiries and you’ll find him easy to talk to and very approachable.

 

 

 

Adoption Attorneys serving these New Jersey Counties:

Monmouth County, Ocean County, Essex County, Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Bergen County, Morris County, Burlington County, Union County, Somerset County, Hudson County, Passaic County