Syracuse Law Office

Trends & Topics

Step Parent Adoption

How Do I Start a Step Parent Adoption?

These days many couples in Onondaga County find themselves in second marriages living with children from their previous relationships and marriages. Having to define the legal relationship between your new spouse or partner and your children becomes more and more common. It is a critical concern if your child's biological parent is a "deadbeat" with child support or lacks interest, fails to visit or abandons them.
The process of legally adopting the child of your spouse or partner is a very confusing and difficult one for a lay person. Hiring the right attorney will ease much of the stress and make the process smoother. Once you have hired an experienced adoption attorney, the next step is gathering some information for them. Some of the New York State, Syracuse City or Onondaga County Records needed may include; your child’s birth certificate, a certified copy of your marriage certificate, tax and medical records. These documents are much different than what is needed for court during a divorce or custody proceedings. Your attorney will need to get all the necessary paperwork ready for the court to review. The paperwork required is quite detailed. Those entering the adoption process must be very forthcoming with their attorney. For example, the client will need to disclose any criminal history, their yearly salary and occupation, and why they want to adopt the child.

What are the consequences of a step parent adoption?

When a step parent or partner adopts a child, they become a legal parent to the child. They have essentially have the same rights and responsibilities as the biological parent to the child. Adoption affects the legal relationship between the adopting parent and the child. In essence it terminates or ends the legal relationship between the child and the biological parent whose shoes the adoptive parent is filling. Once the adoption is complete the child is no longer entitled, by law, to automatically receive part of the original biological parents estate at their death or receive child support or financial assistance from that parent.

Giving notice to the parent being replaced?

When a child is adopted by a step parent, the biological parents rights are dramatically impacted. They have no legal right to be involved in how the child is raised or be their guardian. The adopting parent essentially takes the place of the biological parent.
Because of the finality of adopting a child and terminating a parents rights, it is not something that the court takes lightly. Step parent adoptions raise many legal issues. In New York State adoptions, the parent who may lose their rights must be notified that the adoption is going to take place and must give their consent. However, there are exceptions to the rule requiring consent, such as, if a parent is shown to have met the legal definition of abandonment of the child. The Court must also be able to see that legally it is in the child's best interest to be adopted.

Contact us if you and your spouse or partner live in central New York and are considering doing a step parent adoption, We can tell you if there will be obstacles and if it is the right option for you. We are experienced and knowledgeable in this area and look forward to working through this process with you.

Myth of Instant Divorce

If you have gone through or are considering a divorce, you definitely have wondered if you could just blink and get past it. While that could never be true, You too could be free of that stress your Divorce in New York causes quicker with a well planned divorce with the right attorney. The divorce rate being what it is, there is no shame in admitting that a marriage is not right for you and moving on. The law shouldn't stand in your way of having a better life and moving on without losing your life savings. If you do not have children with your spouse that straightforward divorce can be done quickly and efficiently. Ideally if you have a prenuptial agreement that was properly drafted and signed, your divorce can be done with comparatively little effort and misery. Knowing what you sign on for always makes the final result much less stressful and costly.

Make sure you or your spouse are a resident of NYS for at least 2 years. It is best to file in a county that one of you live it, though the two year requirement doesn't apply to the county of filing.

Have the money for both the filing fees of approximately 350 and whatever the costs for retaining an attorney will be up front. Some attorneys will include the filing fees in the retainer costs but it is up to the client to fully read and understand the retainer agreement that is required to be done for all divorces in the New York. If you have questions about the retainer agreement or the bills or statements you receive it is up to you to ask them immediately as there are time limits for contesting bills or charges.

Honestly and completely reveal information to your attorney regarding all matters related to the divorce. If you do not provide truthful information to them the lawyer, who has to certify documents, could move to be relieved as your attorney in the middle of your case leaving you without help. More importantly, you are not getting the full benefit of the attorney you have spent hard earned money on. Attorneys have the duty to keep confidences of their clients and represent them zealously. That means they find out the details of the client's life or actions in an effort to best help them. You cannot expect good results of your attorney if you lie to them or leave out important details that they could be surprised about later.

Expect to wait for the court process. Even if you have no reason to think your spouse will argue against the divorce, with no fault grounds it is nearly impossible to stop a properly filed and served divorce, the process will take time. This isn't Las Vegas! Speaking of being served, you must have an address or at least a way to locate your spouse as they are entitled to notice of the divorce. Not being able to locate a home address makes it more difficult but not impossible to complete a divorce. A qualified and experienced divorce attorney can handle that situation.

Bear in mind that while attorneys attempt to set their retainers (amount due up front) to include all the fees and charges they expect to be incurred over the divorce, they are not fortune tellers. Repeatedly calling your attorney about the same issue, delays in you getting information to them or by the other spouse or the court and raise the cost. It will ultimately be your responsibility to pay the bill. Knowing what you are being charged for following your attorneys advice and being realistic about the process will help make even a contested divorce go less painfully and expensively.

What is a Law Guardian?

We are assigned as your child's attorney (AFC) or law guardian: What does that mean and what does the process include?

Every time a matter concerning a child goes through Family Court, a lawyer is appointed to represent the child and serve as the child's lawyer. Whether it is a child custody, neglect or divorce, this can be a tumultuous time for families. Children, in particular, can feel caught in the middle. The AFC's/law guardians role is to advocate and represent the child's wishes and interests.

When the court assigns an attorney from our office for your child, we will send all the parties in the matter a notice that we have been assigned and contact information for you to reach us. We will then set up a meeting with your child. It can be at our office, their school/daycare, or other necessary accommodations to meet with your child. However, home visits are generally prohibited as it creates a possibility that the AFC could become a witness in the case. Many parents ask to be present or feel slighted if one parent brings the child for a meeting instead of the other. However, it doesn't matter which parent brings the child in. The purpose of the meeting is for the attorney to speak with the child privately and get a sense of what is going on from them directly, neither parents input is necessary. Children are entitled to have confidential conversations with their attorney, just like adults do, and neither party may be question the child about the discussions or the proceedings.

From there the Attorney for the child acts as any other attorney would in Court proceedings, including filing motions and appearing in court as well as participating in any trial. They represent the position of the child, unless doing so would place the child in danger.

An attorney for children is a role that our office takes very seriously. It is easy for kids to feel like they get pushed aside or not heard in family court cases. We take the time to listen and understand the child's point of view and give them a voice in the legal process.