New Jersey just passed a new law to make it much easier for LGBTQ parents to adopt their non-biological children.
The new law specifically concerns “second-parent” or “confirmatory” adoptions — a common phenomenon for LGBTQ couples. In these situations, one parent is the biological parent of their child, while the other is not. Typically, both parents are listed on the birth certificate. But contrary to popular belief, that’s not enough to legally verify parenthood.
In New Jersey, only biological parents are considered legal parents. To obtain legal parenthood, the non-biological parent also has to formally adopt their own child.
Until now, that process has involved a lot of paperwork, lawyer fees, judicial hearings, background checks, and home visits. It can be costly and time-consuming, making it inaccessible for many LGBTQ folks.
But under the new law, none of that is necessary, Garden State Equality reports. All LGBTQ parents have to do is show up to Family Court with their marriage or civil union certificate, the child’s birth certificate with both parents’ names listed, and a sworn declaration by the parents explaining “the circumstances of the child’s conception.”
It’s not yet clear whether couples will still have to hire a lawyer to get through this process. However, the elimination of so many hurdles will still drastically lower the overall cost of the adoption process.
Governor Phil Murphy signed the new law on Wednesday, and it will take effect in April 2020.
The law applies to same-sex couples, couples where one spouse is transgender, and heterosexual couples who have used a donor to conceive.
“It is critical that New Jersey promotes strong family structures with LGBTQ-inclusive policies, and with Governor Murphy’s signature on this landmark legislation, parents can fully focus on building, protecting, and providing for their families,” Alisha De Lorenzo, Interim Deputy Director for Garden State Equality, told Insider NJ.
“The confirmatory adoption process for LGBTQ parents is rife with legal red tape, high costs, and significant barriers, and I can say from personal experience that this law will truly change the lives of our families for the better.”