Category: Adoption

New Jersey Makes Adoption Easier for LGBT Citizens

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New Jersey Makes Adoption Easier for LGBT Citizens

New Jersey has eased the burden for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) parents who seek adoption to make their families whole. As a result of a new law simplifying the adoption process, non-biological parents can enjoy the protections afforded by law without subjecting themselves to an unnecessarily burdensome process.

The law allows LGBT couples who are legally married or joined in a civil union to become legally recognized parents to a child born from a pregnancy achieved with donor-genetic material. Many same-sex couples create their families using these medically assisted methods. Since the unconventional parentage lacks a biological element, the law has traditionally required these parents to jump through hoops to attain parental rights and protections.

Simplified Process

Adoption is an expensive and bureaucratic process that can drain families of resources or bar them from the prospect altogether, leaving them unprotected under the law. Expensive and time-consuming obstacles can be prohibitive factors for some families. At the very least, some hurdles are simply an unnecessary waste of the court’s time and resources. Thanks to the passage of the new law, qualifying parents can be exempt from many of the components of the adoption process, such as home visits, background checks, and court hearings.

The new law was brought to life by a couple put off by the convoluted process of second-parent or confirmatory adoption required to provide appropriate legal status to their parentage of their children. They believed there had to be an easier way for families to achieve protections and recognition under the law. Without a court order, parents in New Jersey are only legally recognized if they gestated the child or donated genetic material. Neither of these was the case in their family, so they were forced to make it right through a lengthy and costly adoption process.

Recognizing that the hurdles present a barrier to legal protections that should be afforded to all families, they enlisted lawyers to draft new legislation and approached the State Senator about sponsoring the bill.

A New Streamlined Process

After the streamline, the adoption process goes into effect on April 1. A judgment establishing both parties as the legal parents will be available through the Family Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, provided that the following three documents are presented:

  • An original marriage certificate or other proof of marital-type relationship, such as a civil union
  • The child’s original birth certificate listing both parties as parents
  • Verification that there remains no other person with claim to parentage, including an affidavit stating the circumstances of the child’s conception

New Jersey LGBT Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for the Rights of LGBT Families

Gay and lesbian non-biological parents and their children deserve equal protections under the law. The New Jersey LGBT lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can represent you in your efforts to provide a legally recognized familial link to your children. Contact us online or call us at 908-575-9777 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Can Non-Biological Parents Retain Custody?

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Can Non-Biological Parents Retain Custody?

Somerville child custody lawyers represent non-biological parents seeking parental rights.For traditional families, the connection each parent has to their biological children is clearly and soundly protected by the law. However, for many modern families, the legal standing of an established parent-child connection may not be quite as secure.

The law favors traditional family arrangements that clearly define parenthood according to biological standards. As society becomes more inclusive, the law adapts. The courts have been known to side with non-traditional parents despite the lack of a biological link. However, non-biological parents often must prove that they are entitled to parental rights and that the child they raised belongs with them.

Unconventional Families

For many couples, the intense desire to become a parent is obstructed by reproductive issues that compel them to create their families using a surrogate, a sperm donor, or in-vitro fertilization of a donated egg. In families with LGBT parents, each child may have a biological connection to only one of their parents. For blended families in which one or both of the parents enter a marriage with children, family ties can be complicated. For foster parents and other caregivers, the responsibilities of parenthood often are undertaken in an effort to provide for a child who joins their family unexpectedly.

Scenarios That May Require Legal Intervention

Many people trust that their families will stay intact and that their connection to their children will not require outside validation. However, unexpected things happen, and it is best to protect your family from them. What happens after the untimely death of the biological parent? What if a stepmother’s husband dies and her child’s biological mother wants the child back? Families should consider the possibility of such unforeseeable circumstances and make arrangements to protect their children from the uncertainties that present themselves when family connections are not legally clear.

Adoption Preserves Rights

The best way for non-biologicals parent to preserve their parental rights is to formally adopt their child. In cases of divorce, non-biological parents who adopt their children have an easier time claiming custody or visitation rights. When the biological parent dies, adoption protects the non-biological parent from the possibility of losing their parental rights to relatives with a biological connection.

Proving Parenting

When it comes to custody, the court’s main concern is the best interest of the child. If you lack a biological link to your child and you have not gone through the process to formally adopt your child, you may need to jump through some legal hoops to prove your status as the child’s primary caregiver, but with the right help, it can be done.

Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Represent Non-Biological Parents Seeking Parental Rights

If you are a non-biological parent seeking custody of a child, the experienced Somerville child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help you present a solid case regarding the best interest of the child. Call 908-575-9777 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. With offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we represent clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Stepparent Adoption and Blended Families

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Stepparent Adoption and Blended Families

New Jersey adoption lawyers advise and oversee stepparent adoptions.Nearly one million couples in the U.S. will divorce this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Although many will find happiness again through a subsequent marriage, some children of divorce will lose touch with their biological parent along the way. Fortunately, when divorce or other factor breaks the bonds between parent and child, there is legal opportunity for stepparents to step in and fill the void through adoption.

Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights: A Smooth, Straightforward Path to Stepparent Adoption

Courts are receptive to formalizing the relationship between a stepparent and their stepchild when a biological parent has voluntarily relinquished all parental rights. This is because courts generally recognize that it is always in the best interests of a child to have two stable, loving and responsible parents. In such a scenario, prior to filing formal adoption paperwork, stepparents must establish that the absentee parent has expressed a disinterest in parenting the child in question, going forward.

Prior to signing the paperwork which relinquishes parental rights, both biological parents must acknowledge what the relinquishment means. The relinquishing parent forfeits any future right to be consulted on any decisions regarding his/her child. In return, the relinquishing parent will have no child support obligation. Additionally, a minor child may not seek other monetary support or an inheritance from a biological parent who has relinquished his/her parental rights. The voluntary relinquishment of parental rights completely and permanently severs the legal responsibilities between a biological parent and his/her child.

Involuntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights

Far less harmonious are efforts to formalize adoption by a stepparent when a biological parent expresses a desire to remain in the life of their minor child. In such circumstances, a stepparent must establish that the biological parent has legally abandoned their child. Abandonment can be difficult to prove but in some cases can be proven upon a showing of failure to provide child support or communicate with their child for a prolonged period of time, normally in excess of one year. A stepparent can also move to terminate parental rights by proving that the child in question is not the biological child of the absentee parent. However, most states presume that a male married to a female at the time of a child’s birth is presumed to be the biological father.

When abandonment and parentage are not in dispute, stepparents can still move to involuntarily terminate a biological parent’s rights. In New Jersey, an involuntary termination is available upon a determination that such action is in the best interests of a child. Stepparents pursuing this approach must be prepared to demonstrate that the biological parent has physically or emotionally harmed the child or failed to provide the child with a permanent home. Additionally, an involuntary termination can occur upon a showing of that the biological parent has failed to address and correct problems previously identified by child protective services, or that the biological parent has been convicted of a child-abuse related crime or a crime involving murder or grave bodily harm.

Stepparents wishing to formalize their adoption of a stepchild should keep in mind that establishing only that a biological parent is unfit will rarely suffice in court. Instead, a stepparent should be prepared to prove that they are a superior choice. New Jersey law also requires that a stepparent is at least 10 years older than the stepchild they wish to adopt. A waiver to this requirement can be sought, however.

New Jersey Adoption Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advise and Oversee Stepparent Adoptions

If you or a loved one is contemplating adoption of a stepchild, the New Jersey adoption lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Our experienced team routinely handles adoptions, including those requiring an involuntary termination of parental rights. Contact us online or call 908-575-9777 to schedule your appointment today.

From our offices in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we represent clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.

Private Adoption in New Jersey

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Bridgewater family law lawyer advocate for their NJ clients in private adoption matters.Written by: Marissa DelMauro, Esq.

The decision to enter into a private adoption is an exciting one, but it also comes with several questions regarding the process. In New Jersey, there are two ways to enter into a private adoption: 1) Through an approved agency; or 2) Directly from the birth parents.

Before a Complaint for adoption is filed with the Surrogate Court, the biological parents’ rights must be terminated, whether by a voluntary surrender or a formal termination of parental rights by a Court. When working with an approved agency, the agency conducts the home study before placing a child in the home. It will also work with the birth mothers to surrender their parental rights to the agency following the child’s birth. Under New Jersey law, such surrenders are valid only if signed more than 72 hours following birth. That surrender of parental rights is then irrevocable. When working in a direct private placement scenario, the birth parents can sign documents to surrender their parental rights at any time following the child’s birth. However it is important to note that the surrender will remain revocable (retractable) until the Court terminates the birth parents’ parental rights or the birth parents voluntarily surrender those rights in Court.

Next, whether it is a private adoption or placement through an approved agency, the following procedures must also take place:

  • Federal and State criminal background checks and a check of child abuse registries of the adoptive parents
  • Home study conducted by an approved adoption, which involves a review of the adoptive parents’ home, interviews of the adoptive parents and any other adults living in the home, review of the adoptive parents’ employment references and verification of income and a health assessment of the adoptive parents

The timing of the filing of a Complaint for adoption differs between an adoption through an approved agency (at least six months) and through birth parents (45 days).

If it is an adoption through an approved agency, the Court will typically schedule the adoption hearing between 10 to 30 days after the Complaint is filed and the child has been living in the adoptive home for at least six months.

If it is a direct adoption through birth parents, the adoptive parents must file the Complaint for adoption in their county of residence, or, the child’s county of birth if the child to be adopted is less than three months old. Once the Complaint is filed, the court then sets a date for a preliminary hearing for termination of the birth parents’ rights. This typically occurs between two to three months after the Complaint is filed. The final hearing is then scheduled approximately six months later. While the adoptive parents wait the six months before the final hearing, an approved agency will conduct post-placement home service visits to ensure the adoptive child’s growth and development as well as the family’s adjustment to caring for the child.

For more information regarding the adoption process in New Jersey contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent adoptive parents throughout New Jersey. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail, view our website at www.lyonspc.com, or call our office at 908-575-9777.

Client Alert: Surrogacy Contracts

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New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Offer Client Alert: Surrogacy ContractsCertain Surrogacy Contracts May be Enforceable in New Jersey Upon the Passing of the NJGCAA

New Jersey is in the final stages of passing the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act (NJGCAA).

A gestational carrier agreement is a written contract between a “gestational carrier” and an “intended parent.” The gestational carrier is a woman who agrees to carry and give birth to a child who she has no genetic relationship with and is created using assisted reproduction on behalf of an intended parent. The intended parent becomes the legal parent of the child and the gestational carrier has no parental rights or obligations upon the birth of the child. In short, under the NJGCAA, an agreement requiring a woman to carry a child, with whom she shares no genetic material, on behalf of an intended parent who will be entitled to all legal rights and obligations upon the birth of the child, would be an enforceable contract under New Jersey Law.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty conceiving a child and would like to explore surrogacy or adoption, then please call the skilled family lawyers at the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, our divorce lawyers in New Jersey represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777.

Written by: Mark T. Gabriel, Esq.

Single Men Adopting Children

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Woodbridge adoption lawyers help all types of families, including single men, with adoption.In the United States, there are currently 500,000 children waiting to be adopted. While traditional families were once the ideal situation for adoptable children, that notion is changing. Single parents have proven they can provide loving, stable, and safe homes for children to thrive and grow. When it comes to the relationship status of adoptive parents, one-third are single. Just three percent of those are men, but that number is growing steadily. Single men interested in adoption face great obstacles in building their family, but when they succeed, the results can be miraculous.

Challenges Facing Single Men Pursuing Adoption

Single men are considering adoption for the same reasons single women do. Men without partners who want to experience parenthood and build a family consider adoption a viable option. There are significant challenges for single men hoping to help a child in need. On average, it takes four attempts to complete a successful adoption for single parents. It is illegal for adoption agencies to discriminate against single men, and many adoptive fathers report off the record questions about their sexuality or dismissals before they begin the process. Many agencies want single men to prove they can provide children with a female presence in their lives.

Financially, single men need to demonstrate that they have the resources to provide for a child. They must also pay costly adoption fees up to $30,000 on their own. They can be at a disadvantage compared to married couples working with two incomes. Agencies also want single men to show they have a large support system for the child when they are not around. Single men face the balancing act that every single parent faces, including managing schoolwork, activities, social time, and family time, all while having fun. Agencies say that single men often adopt older boys, a group that is traditionally more difficult to place. Single parents are also more likely to adopt children with special needs, another underserved group. Single men offer stability and security, which is especially important for children with histories of abuse.

Woodbridge Adoption Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help All Types of Families with Adoption

Research shows that children adopted into single parent homes adjust as well as those adopted into traditional homes. Single men considering adoption, but are unsure of how to begin, can schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced adoption lawyer in Woodbridge by calling 908-575-9777 or completing our online contact form. Lyons & Associates, P.C. serve the entire state of New Jersey, including Somerset County, Morris Country, Union County, and the towns of Bridgewater, Basking Ridge, Mendham, Morristown, Somerville, South Plainfield, Somerset, and Woodbridge.

New Jersey Family Law Attorney Participates in National Adoption Day

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New Jersey Family Law Attorney Participates in National Adoption Day
For 16 years, families across the United States have celebrated National Adoption Day every November 19th. Since its inception, the project has help to achieve over 58,000 adoptions nationwide. The concept was a pet project of Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s restaurant. Both Dave Thomas, and his daughter Wendy, after whom the restaurant chain is named, are adopted.

Each year, today is a day of reflection where couples look back on how adoption has changed thNational Adoption Dayeir lives and helped their families to grow throughout the years. This year, The National Adoption Day Coalition is asking families with adopted children to tag their Instagram photos in their #onedayproject to show how adoption has affected their families. Since then, children and parents across the country have used the hashtag and have shared stories of how one kind act changed their lives forever. For more information about National Adoption Day, click here.

This year, Managing Partner, Theresa Lyons, is honored to participate in this event by coordinating an adoption in Passaic County.

Adopting a child is nNational Adoption Dayo doubt a selfless and rewarding experience, but it is not a simple thing to do. Adoption is a process. And with many couples these days adopting children internationally, that process has become even more complicated.

New Jersey family law lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. understand the complex process of adoption and can be the advocates an individual or a couple needs. We have a successful track record of ensuring that the adoption process goes as smoothly as possible. We will work to minimize your worry, allowing you to spend time with your growing family.

New Jersey Family Law Attorney Participates in National Adoption DayContact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777 for a free consultation. From our offices in Somerville, New Jersey, we advocate for clients throughout the Garden State, including South Plainfield, Bridgewater, Somerset, Basking Ridge, Mendham, Morristown, Somerset County, Morris County, and Union County.