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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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