When are Non-Biological Guardians Considered Legal Parents in New Jersey?

Bergen County NJ Adoption LawyersApproximately 50 percent of all children growing up in the U.S. do so in “non-tradiotional” homes. In fact, the traditional family is somewhat of an outdated term. Children thrive in many different situations so long as they are provided with the love and support of a strong family unit. Along those lines, many New Jersey adults act as parents to children who are not biologically theirs. This is a great option for many families whether it was a planned situation or merely one that happened over time.

Today, our family law attorneys will be discussing how non-biological parents may be granted the legal status and rights of parents through adoption or psychological parentage.

Bergen County, NJ Adoption Lawyers Discuss the Adoption Process

Adoption is the act of an adult or adults legally becoming the parents of a child. Many adoptions are handled through New Jersey Foster and Adoptive Family Services, an organization who cares for thousands of foster children in our state. For adults interested in adopting a foster child, there may be a required waiting period which can include the application process, parental training courses, vetting process, licensing process, and being matched with a child in need. Adoptions may also be handled through other private or international organizations with their own set of standards and regulations.

It is also important to understand that stepparents may also eligible to adopt their stepchild. However, there are a certain set of circumstances which must exist for this to be possible. The child’s biological parent must voluntarily waive his or her parental rights or it must be proven in NJ Family Court that the biological parent is unfit. Additionally, the parental spouse must give his or her written permission to the stepparent seeking adoption. Children aged 10 or older may also have their desires heard in a court of law during the adoption process.

Ridgewood Non-Biological Parents’ Rights Attorneys Define Psychological Parentage

While adoption is a fantastic choice for stepparents or those who wish to bring a child in need into their home, what about individuals who have already been acting in a parental role? Your Chatham non-biological parents’ rights attorneys might suggest seeking parentage through a psychological parent claim. These claims are typically part of child custody hearings, and serve to give parental rights to individuals who are already in an active parenting role. In order to be considered a psychological parent in New Jersey, your attorney will have to show all of the following is true:

  • The child lived with the individual seeking psychological parentage for an extended period of time
  • The adult seeking psychological parentage has willingly entered into a guardianship of the child with the permission and the support of a legal parent
  • The adult seeking psychological parentage has developed a parental bond with the child in question
  • The adult seeking psychological parentage has demonstrated the ability to care for the child in a parental role – providing support financially, with childcare, medical concerns, and more

If you are granted psychological parentage, you will be given the same legal status as a biological or adoptive parent throughout child custody proceedings. It is important to understand that this will not guarantee securing child custody or parenting time, but will get your proverbial foot in the door.

Contact our Hackensack Non-Traditional Parents’ Rights Lawyers Today

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our legal team has extensive experience serving families from Bergen County communities including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, Fort Lee, and all of Northern New Jersey. Our attorneys come from a diverse background covering a wide array of legal knowledge within the divorce and family law realms. However, our firm practices exclusively family law, allowing us to focus on the legal complexities which matter most to our clients and their families. Whether you are seeking parentage through adoption or psychological parentage, lean on our experienced team led by three Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys.

Please contact us online or through our Hackensack, NJ offices by calling (201) 397-1750 today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your legal rights, your best path forward, and how we can help you establish parentage in New Jersey.

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