Adult adoptions are legal in New York as long as all parties consent and there is no romantic relationship between the parent and the adoptee. Whether to allow the adoption is within the discretion of the family court judge, who must find that the adoption is in the adoptee's best interest.
Even after a child has reached the age of majority, meaning he no longer needs a guardian to navigate the adult world, he may still wish to be adopted. Adult adoption formalizes the family ties between two adults, while also conferring legal benefits such as inheritance or insurance. Sometimes, an individual may choose adult adoption to legally sever his current parent relationship. Unlike some other states, New York does not restrict the age of either party in an adoption.
Adult Adoption is Legal in New York
New York places no specific age restriction on the age of the adopted child (and in some cases, a minor can even adopt a child herself). Unlike some states, which stipulate a minimum age difference between adopted parent and child, New York permits adult adoption between any consenting adults. Despite this general permission, the judge may rule differently in any particular adoption case at his own discretion.
Consent to Adopt an Older Child or Adult
In New York, the adoption of a child over 14 years of age requires the consent of the child as well as the adopting parents. For children younger than 18, the court may also require the consent of the child's birth parents, regardless of their current custody status. Adult adoption does not require the consent of the adoptee's birth parents, although the consent of the child's legal guardian may be taken into consideration by a judge.
Legal Process for Adult Adoption
To adopt an adult in New York, the parent must submit an application to adopt. Upon receiving the application, the state of New York will perform a criminal background check on the applicant and other residents in the home. While criminal convictions do not necessarily disqualify you from adopting, they are a factor in the judge's consideration of an adoption case.
The adult adoptee must verify his consent to be adopted before the court. When considering an adoption case, the court is permitted to make inquiries into relationship between the parties. If the court is satisfied the adoption is consensual and in the best interests of the adoptee, the judge finalizes the adoption. The adoptee is issued a new birth certificate and a name change if desired.
The court has a duty to take into account the best interests of the adoptee. New York courts have held that an adoption may not be used to legalize a same-sex relationship, although New York now permits same-sex marriages, and so this issue is unlikely to arise much. Adult adoption of a romantic partner could run afoul of the state's incest laws as well, even if the purpose is to assist with inheritance.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Who May Adopt, Be Adopted, or Place a Child for Adoption?; 2009
- New York State Office of Children and Family Services: The Adoption Process
- Onecle: New York Domestic Relations - Title 1 Section 111 - Whose Consent Required
- McGuire, Pelaez & Bennett, P.C.: Adult Adoption
- Very Well Family: How to Complete an Adult Adoption