Raising a child when you are not their legal parent

Many stepparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even non-relatives across the nation have had to step up in recent years and raise children who were not born to them. This situation might occur if a legal parent is incarcerated, or unable to care for a child due to his or her drug addiction. Whatever the case may be, it is sometimes the best option for a child to be raised by a person other than a legal parent. The role that these people take on with respect to the children varies from one case to the next, as there are different options when you have care and custody of child of whom you are not a legal parent. One common option for a person who is providing long-term care for a child is kinship legal guardianship. N.J.S.A. 3B:12A-1.

In the state of New Jersey, any individual who meets certain conditions can apply for kinship legal guardianship, which gives him or her certain legal rights with respect to a child. You may qualify to apply for kinship legal guardianship if you meet the following conditions:

  • The child has been in your care for at least 12 months.
  • The biological parents of the child cannot care for him or her.
  • You have a legal, biological or emotional relationship with the child.
  • You are financially able to care for the child.
  • It is in the child’s best interests for him or her to remain in your care.

Kinship legal guardianship is an option when an individual needs to care for a child of whom they are not a legal parent on a long-term basis, and is more stable than foster care, which is meant to be temporary and involves a great deal of oversight by the state. Unlike adoption, kinship legal guardianship does not terminate the biological/legal parents’ rights. Kinship legal guardianship also automatically terminates when the child either graduates from high school or turns 18 years of age.

When you are raising a child of whom you are not a legal parent, your rights to that child may vary widely from one situation to the next. We know how difficult, complicated, and emotionally draining all types of family law cases can be. Contact Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, today and we will show you how we can help with your New Jersey divorce case. Our attorneys focus their practice primarily on family law and issues related to children, so we are sure to have the skills that you need for proper representation in your family law case. We are here to answer your questions, settle your concerns, and assist you through the often difficult process of contested divorce and family law cases.