New Jersey Adoption Laws

Laws regulating the adoption process often vary quite a bit from one state to the next, with just a handful of states signing onto the Uniform Adoption Act. Adoption laws regulate who may adopt a child, who may be adopted, and how the procedure unfolds. According to New Jersey adoption laws, anyone may be adopted (but must be 10 years younger than the petitioner, or the person wishing to adopt) and a six-month home residency is required prior to finalization of the adoption.

Pre-Adoption Disclosures

Prior to placement, prospective parents in New Jersey will be provided with as much information about the child's development and characteristics as is available. This information typically includes medical history, personality, complete medical histories of the child's birth parents (if available), drugs and medications taken by the birth mother during pregnancy; and any other relevant health issues.

Foster Parenting in New Jersey

In order to become a foster parent (short-term "adoption"), you must be 18 or older, in reasonable health, and you must prove that you can provide the child with a safe home environment. In many ways, the laws surrounding foster care are identical to those regarding adoption.

New Jersey Adoption Laws: The Basics

Obviously, you don't have to be an attorney to adopt a child, but statutes are often written in "legalese" and can be challenging to decipher. In order to better help you understand New Jersey's adoption laws, we've provided a plain-English summary of the main elements of the law below.

Statutes
Who May Be Adopted
  • Any person
  • If an adult adoption, the individual adopted must be 10 years younger than petitioner
Age that Child's Consent Needed 10 years and older (to be given consideration)
Who May Adopt
  • Any person of at least 18 yrs.
  • If petitioner is married, spouse must consent or application may be made jointly
  • Court may waive any of these requirements for good cause.
Home Residency Required Prior to Finalization of Adoption?

Home Study Process - This is a process that allows New Jersey's Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) agency to learn about the prospective parents, while also helping families learn about adoption and transition into their new role.

  • CP&P provides 27 hours of training to prospective adoptive parents (required).
  • The home study process includes interviews with individual family members.
  • References must be provided (personal, employment, child care, medical).
  • Every member of the household over the age of 18 must undergo a criminal history background check and child abuse record information check.
  • Adoptive and foster families must be licensed by the Office of Licensing (OOL).
State Agency/Court

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

New Jersey Adoption Laws: Related Resources

Looking to Adopt a Child in New Jersey? An Attorney Can Help

Adopting a child is a major life change that should not be entered into lightly. You want to do your research, be prepared for the challenges of parenthood, and get the appropriate level of legal assistance. If you're embarking on the adoption process, consider speaking with an experienced New Jersey adoption law attorney today.

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