Stepparent Adoption

Category: On Demand

Member Price: $140

Non-Member Price: $175

Product Code: ON110921

Areas of Law: Family

CLE Credits
NJ CLE:NJ CLE information: This program has been approved by the Board on Continuing Legal Education of the Supreme Court of New Jersey for 2 hours of total CLE credit (Full Credits Available: NJ General: 2.0).
NY CLE (t&nt):NY Professional Practice Non-Transitional: 2.0
PA CLE:PA Substantive Credit: 1.5
New: No PACLE fee is required for this program. To earn PA CLE credits, a valid PA Bar ID number must be entered into the CLE form provided after attending the program.




Donald C. Cofsky, Esq.
Cofsky & Zeidman LLC, Haddonfield
Robin A. Fleischner, Esq.
Robin A. Fleischner, Esq., New York
Debra E. Guston, Esq.
Guston & Guston, LLP, Glen Rock
is a Partner in Guston & Guston, L.L.P. in Glen Rock, New Jersey. She concentrates her practice in family formation through adoption and assisted reproduction, and family protection through estate planning, estate litigation administration and guardianship for elders and special needs children. She also represents non-profit organizations in formation and governance issues.
nA Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, Ms. Guston is Past President of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, serves as the Academy’s Adoption Director, and is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Executive Committee, for which she has served as Chair of the Adoption and Reproductive Rights Subcommittee. She has served as President of the Board of Trustees of ACLU-NJ, where she has been Chair of the Nominating Committee, and has been a member of the Legal Professional Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Ms. Guston is Past President of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Greater New York, a former Regional Board member and Board Secretary of the National Gay and Lesbian Bar Association, and has been a member of the National LGBT Association’s Family Law Institute. Past Chair of the NJSBA LGBT Rights Section, she has also been a member of the American, Bergen County and Passaic County Bar Associations and Women Lawyers in Bergen County. Ms. Guston has served as New Jersey local counsel for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and worked on legislative issues involving the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Act, which was signed into law in 2018. She is a member of the Legal Professional Group of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and a volunteer advocate for RESOLVE, the National Fertility Association. She has been appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to the Family Practice Committee, which evaluates rule changes and other issues for referral to the high court, and has also been appointed to the Advisory Committee on Access and Fairness, and Judiciary Working Group on Pro Bono Assignments.
nA lecturer at Rutgers School of Law, Ms. Guston is a contributing editor to West Group’s Sexual Orientation and the Law and author of a portion of the Family Court Rules in LexisNexis’s New Jersey Court Rules Annotated 2008-2009. She is a frequent lecturer for community and professional groups, and has been an Associate Managing Editor of the New Jersey Lawyer. A CCAI Angel in Adoption recipient in 2017, she is the recipient of several other honors, including ICLE’s Distinguished Service Award, the E. Nathaniel Gates Award from the Cardozo School of Law, the Leading Practitioner Award bestowed by the National LGBT Bar Association and the Saul Tischler Award, the highest honor bestowed by the NJSBA Family Law Section for her work on behalf of families and service to the Bar.
nMs. Guston received her undergraduate degree, cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College, her M.A. from Emerson College and her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Lauri Steinberg, Esq.
Pine & Steinberg, LLC, Summit

Many stepparents provide their stepchildren with love and support and are eager to adopt them. Clients often ask lawyers to handle stepparent adoptions, and attorneys should be aware of the problems and pitfalls they may encounter. Our program features Debra Guston, Adoption Director and Past President of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. She discusses the issues and steps involved in a stepparent adoption, the mistakes attorneys frequently make, and the problems that can impede an adoption.

Topics for discussion include:

  • Qualifications for becoming a stepparent

  • Notification of the biological/legal parent
    - How notification needs to be done
    - What to do if you have difficulty serving/notifying the parent

  • Is the biological/legal parent named on the child’s birth certificate?

  • Requirements for adopting
    - Consent of both biological/legal parents
    - Situations in which consent of the non-custodial parent is not needed
    - The child’s consent
    - Proving abandonment or lack of biological connection
    - Obtaining permission for termination of parental rights
    - Showing abuse and neglect when permission cannot be obtained
    - Best interest of the child standard

  • Forms and paperwork needed for the adoption

  • Caselaw relating to stepparent adoptions

  • Background checks and home studies


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