Stepparent Adoption in New York | What to Know

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If you marry a partner who has children, you will become a stepparent. In some cases, stepparents adopt their stepchildren. If you are interested in adopting your stepchild, read on for more information.

Why Adopt Your Stepchild?

There are a number of reasons a stepparent may want to adopt his or her stepchild. A large reason is that stepparents don’t have very many parental rights, so adoption allows them the same rights as biological parents. This means that you will be able to make important decisions about the child’s life, involving things like healthcare, education, and religion. Another reason a stepparent may choose to adopt his stepchild is that the child’s biological parent is incarcerated or institutionalized. But, it is important to note that in cases like this, a court tends to prefer a blood relative be the child’s guardian.

What are the Requirements in New York?

If you are considering adopting your stepchild, you will have to meet a few requirements. These requirements include:

  • Both biological/ legal parents of the child must consent to the adoption unless the court finds that the other parent’s consent is not legally required. This will depend on many factors, such as whether the non-custodial parent is named on the child’s birth certificate and the extent to which he or she has taken physical, emotional and financial responsibility for the child. For the most part, a New York court will only terminate parental rights if evidence of neglect or abuse is found.
  • A child over 14 years old must consent to the stepparent adoption and be present at the adoption hearing.

What is the Process of Stepparent Adoption in New York??

If the above requirements are met and you are able to adopt your stepchild, you will have to go through an adoption process. You will want to retain the help of a family law attorney. The adoption process will likely involve a background check. You will need to be fingerprinted and cleared through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Additionally, there will be an adoption hearing.  When the adoption is complete, the law views the stepparent as the biological and legal parent of the stepchild, with the same parental rights and obligations of any biological parent.

While adopting a stepchild can be a wonderful decision and greatly strengthen the bond between you and your stepchild, it tends to be a difficult process. For this reason, you will want to retain the help of a skilled family law lawyer. Contact our firm to discuss your options.


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