Does getting married mean automatic adoption of a spouse’s children?

UPDATED: Sep 3, 2011

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Does getting married mean automatic adoption of a spouse’s children?

I have 3 children, the father is in another country, has no ties to my kids and I’m about to get married to another man. When we get married would he have to file adoption papers to legally adopt my kids or would it automatically happen through the marriage?

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Family Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to speak with a family law attorney about this situation:

1) Marriage does *not* result in automatically adopting the new spouse's children by or with another person.

2) It may very well be impossible for your new husband to adopt your children--they already have a father, and whether he is in another country or not, he has parental rights and is legally their father. I believe that unless and until the children's father's parental rights are terminated in some way, so they become legally "fatherless" (which is gross oversimplification and not quite right in any event; it's for the sake of illustration), they cannot be adopted by a new father.

3) There may be ways to get many of the benefits of adoption without adoption--your new husband could be made a legal guardian of your children; he could name them in his will; etc.

There are a lot of complex issues here--you need an attorney's help.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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