If you decide to part ways from your spouse through filing for divorce, you still have legal rights and duties to your children, whether they are adopted or biological. In most instances, the fact that your children are adopted won’t be very different than if they were genetically yours. However, there are some exceptions, so it’s important to hire a lawyer that is familiar with both divorce and adoption laws.
The Duties of Adoptive Parents
When parents adopt a child, they legally take on obligations to meet that child’s needs. These duties do not go away during divorce. Each parent must provide for the child regardless of whether they were born within the marriage or adopted. Furthermore, each parent is to make decisions for the well being of the adopted child, such as religion, schooling, hobbies, medical care, and other important aspects of their life.
Negotiating Terms of Child Custody
During divorce, each parent will have to negotiate terms of child custody or fight in court over the matter. The adoptive parents can attempt to work out a custody agreement and visitation schedule among themselves through mediation or with their lawyer’s assistance. But if they cannot successfully do so, they must go to court and the judge will decide the final outcome. There are many potential verdicts for child custody such joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or full custody.
If the adoptive parents go to court for child custody, the primary concern for the judge will be what arrangement is going to be in the best interest of the child. The judge may consider these factors when deciding the outcome:
- Each parent’s income
- The physical health of each parent
- How far apart the parents will live from one another
- The child’s opportunity for extracurriculars and friendships
- Whether one parent has exhibited violence in the past
- The age of the child or children
- The quality of the relationship between each parent and child
- The wishes and preferences of the parents
- The child’s preferences
- Work obligations
- The mental health of each parent (and whether they struggle with drug addiction or other cognitive impairments)
- Each parent’s lifestyle and stability
- The adoptive parent’s ability to provide basic necessities (food, clothing, own room, social activities, medical care, etc.)
When Divorce Impacts Adoption
A unique circumstance in which divorce can impact adoption is if the couple is separating as their adoption finalization is processing. Even if the couple didn’t do this intentionally, the adoption agency may be concerned that they misrepresented or committed fraud in order to adopt the child. The agency may have made a decision based on the fact that the child would be raised in a two parent home, but now the situation has changed.
If the court believes fraud occurred, the adoption may be void and the birth parent of the child may reclaim parental rights. If this sounds like something you are currently going through, then it is highly advised that you get legal counsel for help.