While most people associate adoption with children, in New Jersey an individual 18 years of age or older can be adopted by another adult. While adult adoptions are less common, they are no less important for many families.
Purpose of Adult Adoption
- Estate Planning: Ensure that an individual will inherit from the adoptive parent’s estate as a legal heir.
- Formalizing Existing Relationships: Formalize a parent-child relationship that already exists but is not legally recognized, commonly step-parent/step-child relationships or any other relationships in which one party has assumed a parental role.
- Caring for an Adult with Disabilities: An adult who has disabilities to simplify legal and financial arrangements.
Process of Adult Adoption
The process of adult adoption in New Jersey is more straightforward and swift than the process of adopting a child.
- Consent: The party or parties looking to adopt, as well as the adult seeking to be adopted, must consent to the adoption. Unlike an adoption of a minor, the consent of the adoptee’s biological parents is not required. In some instances, if the adult being adopted is mentally incapacitated, additional legal steps may be necessary to safeguard the adoptee’s interests.
- Complaint for Adoption: The prospective adoptive parent files a Complaint for Adoption in the Superior Court in the county where either the adoptee or the adoptive parent resides. The application includes details about both parties, the nature of their relationship, the reasons for the adoption, and confirmation that both parties understand the financial and legal implications of the adoption.
- Hearing: After the Complaint is filed, the court will schedule a hearing. If the judge decides that the adoption is in the best interest of both parties involved, the adoption will be granted.
- Finalization: Upon finalization, the adopted adult is considered the legal child of the adoptive parent, and they enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that come with this relationship, including inheritance rights.
Implications of Adult Adoption
While adult adoption provides a unique bond and numerous benefits, it is imperative to remember that it is a serious commitment with permanent implications. It severs the legal relationship with the biological parents, meaning the adopted adult would no longer have rights of inheritance from biological parents unless specifically mentioned in their will.
Adult adoption is a significant step, and has legal, emotional, and financial implications, all of which should be carefully considered. Always consult with a legal professional to understand the process and the changes it will bring to your family and financial situation.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding an adult adoption or an adoption, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.