When you adopt a child, you offer them a safe, stable, and loving home. While divorce does change the makeup of your home and family, it should not change your adopted child’s relationship with either parent. During a divorce, many parents wonder if having an adopted child changes anything about the process. If this sounds like you, we’re here to help. Learn more about divorce and adoption, and for more personalized guidance regarding your divorce, call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-803-3500.
The Court’s Approach to an Adopted Child
To start, know that the court does not treat an adopted child any differently than it treats a biological child. Adoption creates a legal relationship that is just as binding as the one you would have with a biological child. This means that during the divorce process, the child is entitled to have their best interests placed first. They deserve full financial support from both parents, regardless of how parenting time is split.
In many divorce cases, custody and child support are agreed upon outside of court. Through negotiations and discussions, the parents determine an arrangement that benefits the children in question. The judge then simply has to sign off on it. However, if you and your co-parent are unable to decide these matters on your own, you may have to take it in front of the judge.
How the Court Will Assess the Child’s Best Interests
As is the case in any divorce, the judge will determine what type of custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests. This is a complex topic that involves a wide range of factors, including:
- If one party has served as the child’s primary caretaker
- How any changes in schedule would affect the child’s wellbeing
- If the child has a stronger bond with either parent
- What type of arrangement each parent wants
- The ability of each parent to meet the child’s physical, educational, and emotional needs
- Each parent’s ability to provide the child with strong community and familial relationships
- Each parent’s willingness to maintain the child’s relationship with the other parent
- Each parent’s work schedule and other obligations
If this matter is decided in court, your attorney will need to be ready to prove your abilities as a parent and as a co-parent.
Unique Considerations That Affect Adopted Children
While the process is largely the same for biological and adopted children, there are some things to keep in mind as you navigate your divorce.
First, recognize that adopted children often struggle with feelings of abandonment and loss. If they came to accept your family and feel safe there, the breakup of the marriage will likely reawaken those issues and possibly make them even worse. For this reason, be ready to provide your child with counseling—both individual and family. Going through family therapy with your ex-partner and child may be difficult, but it will likely be necessary to protect your child’s mental health and feeling of belonging during this transitory time.
Unfortunately, another issue that may come up during the divorce is a sudden and obvious preference for one’s biological children. While parents may have worked together well while married, divorce may make them feel free to share their less desirable opinions.
If one parent suddenly wants less time with the adopted child in comparison to their biological children, treats the adopted child differently, or claims that the other parent “forced them” into agreeing with adoption, this could make the divorce process difficult. To start, it will likely result in a different custody arrangement for each child—the court will not want to force a child to stay with a parent that makes them feel unwanted.
Second, the adopted child will likely have severe feelings of abandonment due to the other parent’s willingness to leave them behind. In this situation, it’s important to negotiate for money to cover the child’s mental healthcare needs.
Choose Kirk Drennan Law for the Representation You Deserve
Although adoption does not change the facts of most divorce cases, it can change the process in a few key ways. Make sure you know what to expect and how best to protect your child. Set up a consultation with our team now by calling 205-803-3500 or contacting us online