Turning Adoption Dreams into Reality

dotsPhoto courtesy of Zubeir Tai

Anyone who has negotiated a successful adoption knows that the legal process that surrounds adoption is a complex maze that requires dedication and determination to expanding your family in a “non-traditional” manner. If you are considering adoption for the first time, or even if you are not a newbie, Veitengruber Law would like to be by your side throughout the entire process to ensure that your experience is a positive one.

Because adoption laws differ from state to state, it is extremely important that you have a good handle on everything that is required in order to make your New Jersey adoption successful. And while you must be sure to have a good personal understanding of the process, it is imperative that you work with a qualified adoption attorney to ensure that your legal pleadings are filed appropriately and on time at the appropriate New Jersey courthouse. Your New Jersey adoption attorney will also represent you in court throughout your adoptive process, so it is important to choose an attorney experienced in adoption cases.

During adoption processes, birthparents are also advised to work with an attorney separate from yours, so that they are well advised of their legal rights surrounding the choice they are making to relinquish their parental rights. The cost of the birthparents’ attorney will be your responsibility as the adoptive parent(s), but it is more than well worth the cost to ensure that your adoption goes off without any difficulties later on down the line.

When you begin working with Veitengruber Law, you will find us at the ready to join you in your adoptive process, regardless of whether you have yet to choose an adoption agency or if you are nearing the end of legalizing your adoption and have become dissatisfied with your previous legal representation.  It is important to feel comfortable around and to have a rapport with your adoption attorney because you will be sharing personal and private information about your family life with him or her. No matter what your needs are, our attorneys are personally invested in helping you realize your dreams of becoming a family.

Starting at the beginning of the adoption process, our attorneys will advise you on the best questions to ask before choosing an adoption agency to work with, like:

  •  How many children have you successfully placed for adoption in the past year? Five years?
  •  Exactly how long has your agency been in business?
  •  Can you give me references (parents who have used your agency and want to be contacted) so that I may ask them about their experience?
  •  What is the usual adoption process like with your agency?  Can you give me a general timeline of events?
  •  Regarding costs, can I get a breakdown of fees and when they would be due?
  •  Does your agency provide a translator? (if you are pursuing an international adoption)
  •  Can you provide me with details regarding how you abide by domestic and international adoption laws? Can you also provide me with proof that your adoptive families are also following all pertinent adoption guidelines and laws?

To learn more about how you can choose the right adoption agency for your family, and to learn more about the entire adoption process, contact us in the manner you feel most comfortable.  You can visit our website and write to us using our contact form, email us (george@veitengruberlaw.com), or call us directly at (732)852-7295.  We look forward to to turning your adoption dreams into reality.

Second Parent Adoption: Securing Your Family’s Future

rainbowPhoto courtesy of Dann Toliver

Same sex couples who decide to add children to their families often have to deal with some complicated decisions and legal issues. Often, only one parent is considered the ‘legal parent’ even if both parents share equally in taking care of the couple’s child or children. This happens because legal rights are automatically given to a parent when they are biologically connected to a child. Because both members of a same sex couple are not usually biologically related to their child except in extremely rare circumstances (eggs or sperm donated by a relative to one of the partners), problems and questions can arise that male/female couples never have to face.

In most same sex couples with children, only one partner is the biological parent to the kids. Also, even though many gay couples adopt children, historically only one parent has been granted legal custody. These situations leave the other parent with limited parental rights, and may ultimately cause the non-legal parent to lose contact with the children in the case of a break up.

Luckily, the LGBT community now has a solution to this problem, in the form of a Second Parent Adoption.  This is a legal proceeding which gives the same legal rights to the second parent without the first legal parent losing any rights at all, resulting in the child or children having the benefit of two legal parents. Any breakups or difficulties experienced by the couple won’t cause undue stress on the children, at least not beyond the expected stressors of having parents who decide to end their relationship.

A Second Parent Adoption closely resembles a traditional adoption proceeding, with the only difference being that in this case, one parent already has legal rights to the couple’s children. The second parent must petition the court to be granted joint rights without infringing on the first parent’s rights.

Some people may wonder why a Second Parent Adoption (also known as a Co-Parent Adoption) is even necessary, especially if the couple is in a seemingly stable same sex relationship which may even be recognized as a Civil Union.  In many cases, the second parent may even be listed as a parent on the birth certificate, frequently in cases where artificial insemination has been used to impregnate one partner. The significance of a Second Parent Adoption lies in the fact that a non-biological parent may not be granted the same legal rights by all states.  Unfortunately, not all states recognize and honor Civil Unions and the parenting rights that are implied therein. In order to avoid any potential problems while travelling or as the relationship experiences turbulance, same sex co-parents are advised to become legal parents of their children as soon as possible.

Any child who is born into a family with same sex parents or adopted by one member of a same sex relationship should have the security that come with having two legally recognized parents. It is important for parents to be proactive for the sake of the children that they have taken the responsibility of raising.  Living in New Jersey as a same sex couple will make the process of Second Parent Adoption much easier for couples because the LGBT community is well-respected and not discriminated against here. The Veitengruber Law firm is adept at handling Second Parent Adoptions and can answer all of your questions easily when you call our office for a consultation.

Do You Really Need a Credit Card?

creditPhoto courtesy of Images_of_Money

So many people in America and all around the world think that living on credit cards is a normal and appropriate way to pay for things.  While it has definitely become commonplace, the practice of regularly paying by credit card is a surefire way to find yourself doomed to a long and tortuous climb out of debt hell. Keep on paying just the monthly minimums on your Visa or American Express bill and before you know it, you’ll easily rack up a $20,000+ debt that you can’t handle. Paying for items, gifts, groceries and bills with real money is always the desirable way to go, hands down.  A credit card is not real money; in fact, it’s one of the most expensive loans you could possibly ever take.

However, there are certain instances that will call for you to have access to a credit card, so don’t go cutting them all up in a fury. By all means, feel free to cut most of them up if you’ve got more than one or two accounts, but be sure that you keep at least one card handy, and use it only as we are about to explain.

As a friend of the Veitengruber Law family recently realized, her attempt to live completely debt free, although it was doing fantastic things for her credit score, was putting up roadblocks that she didn’t anticipate. It’s true; using a credit card can be beneficial in the following situations:

  • Taking a vacation – From renting a car to reserving a hotel room and booking spa services, a huge percentage of your vacation amenities must be paid for by credit card.  Usually, you can simply reserve the service with your credit card number and then pay cash by using your debit card when you arrive. In instances where you must put the entire balance on your credit card, do so with great caution and be sure to make payment to your credit card company as soon as your vacation ends to avoid paying huge interest fees.
  • In the event of emergencies – Suppose your home’s entire heating system simply goes kaput in the dead of winter and you just don’t have enough of a buffer in your bank account to pay for the repairs.  You’ve got no choice other than putting it on your credit card, but make large payments every time you get paid until your new heater bill is completely erased from your card history.
  • Dealing with someone you don’t completely trust – Using a credit card creates a history that using cash does not, and if a merchant turns out to be corrupt, credit card companies will take care of the problem for you by reversing the payment and cutting you a break.
  • While travelling – Aside from booking all of the details surrounding your vacation, carrying a credit card as opposed to cash on a trip is advisable as long as you know you can pay for what you spend once you get back home.  The reasons are a combination of possible confusion in unfamiliar countries and with merchants you’ve never dealt with, and the risk of credit card theft or loss.  In all of the hustle and bustle of a vacation, things can easily be dropped, lost, or stolen.  Cash can never be replaced, but a credit card, once stolen, can be reported immediately and no charges will then count against you.

Here at Veitengruber Law, we definitely don’t advocate for the regular use of credit cards, and if you’ve already been there, done that and you need help to get out of debt, we’re here to help.  Using a credit card wisely is ok; just be sure to keep your use extremely limited and within your actual spending budget.

Stay Debt-Free This Holiday Season!

ccbillPhoto courtesy of SqueakyMarmot

Although you may be tempted to overindulge in more ways than one this holiday season, it’s important to keep your spending under control so that you don’t end up with credit card bills that you can’t afford in 2013. Spending the whole year watching your budget closely will get you nowhere if you allow the holiday season to tempt you into buying more than you can really afford in December. With all of the credit options offered by stores and credit card companies, many people are lured into buying gifts that are way above their spending limit.

Use our holiday buying guide so that you’ll be able to give gifts to everyone on your list without going broke.

  •  Use your skills wisely, and learn how to make something! While this may not be appropriate for everyone on your list, you may be able to create beautiful gifts for several people, saving you a respectable amount of money.
  •  Stop at one. The holiday season has gotten out of control for millions of Americans, which has resulted in giving multiple gifts to multiple people every single year, which simply isn’t necessary. Most people on your list will be more than happy to receive one gift from you. If you find something that is “perfect for them” after you have already gotten them a gift, fight the urge to buy it. Remind yourself that ending the holidays swimming in debt really isn’t worth getting someone just one more gadget.
  •  Set aside money for holiday spending. Start a Christmas savings account early each year so that when you begin your Christmas shopping you will be able to spend actual money instead of  “credit”, which is really just a loan. By spending money from your Christmas savings account, you avoid the expensive finance costs charged by credit card companies. Remember, if your credit card balances get too high, your credit scores will plummet.
  •  Pay off any credit card balances immediately. If you do end up putting some of your Christmas purchases onto a credit card, keep it to the bare minimum. Pay off your credit card balance as soon as you have the cash available.  After the holidays, emergencies can arise that prevent people from paying off their balances, which then turn into mountainous piles of debt that they can’t handle. Avoid this by paying the balance sooner rather than later.
  •  Set a spending budget. Before you make even one holiday purchase, write out a list of people that you must shop for and how much money you can afford to spend. Stay within your budget by looking for sales, using coupons and promo codes, making a few gifts, and shopping in-store instead of online to avoid pricey shipping costs.
  •  Shop online if it helps keep you in line. Some people tend to spend more money if they shop in-store because of a phenomenon caused by actually seeing and touching products. If shopping virtually helps you stick to your budget, look for online stores that offer free or affordable shipping.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves in dire financial straits after the holidays even with the best laid plans. If this has happened to you, seek help for debt relief before it gets out of control and you find yourself in over your head.  A qualified bankruptcy attorney who specializes in credit repair can help you by introducing you to all of your resources to get your debt numbers lowered as fast as possible, so that you can avoid getting phone calls from collections agencies. He or she can also teach you how to plan better for next year so this doesn’t happen again.