Does Having an Adopted Child Impact Child Custody Cases?
Many questions often arise once a divorce is on the table, especially when children are involved. For example, how will the children be shared between their parents? Who will have physical custody, and who will have legal custody? How will child support be handled?
Determining custody of children can be a complicated matter in any divorce. However, when a couple shares an adopted child, it can raise additional questions on how it might impact the divorce process and arrangements once the divorce is finalized.
Under California law, adoptive parents are considered the legal parents of any adopted children once the adoption is final. Thus, adoptive parents legally have the same responsibility to ensure that children receive care and support as any biological child would following a divorce.
Divorce and Child Custody For Adopted Children
When a divorce occurs with children involved, it is the court’s responsibility to determine each parent’s physical and legal custody responsibilities.
Legal custody grants parents the authority to make important decisions regarding medical procedures, education, religion, and more. Typically this is a shared responsibility, and both parents remain involved in making significant decisions regarding children after the divorce.
Physical custody determines where the children will reside, while visitation rights determine how often they’ll see their other parent outside of these times.
Adoptive Parental Rights in California
There are two common situations regarding parents with adopted children. First, there are instances where parents have adopted a child with no relation to either of them. There are also frequently situations where one parent adopts the biological child of their partner after marriage.
If one parent is the biological parent and the other parent has adopted the child after marriage, the court will likely award custodial rights to the birth parent following a divorce. However, there can be contributing factors, such as abuse situations, where the ruling might not be as straightforward. Adoptive parents can also apply for shared custody of their partner’s biological child after divorce, as they are considered to have all of the rights of a legal parent after an adoption is complete. The potential significant emotional connection between the adopted parent and child further complicates the physical custody issue.
In situations where parents have adopted a child that is not related to either of them biologically, both parents are considered the legal parents of the child after the adoption is finalized and share responsibility for the child’s care in the event of a divorce.
In either scenario, adoptive parents can be required to provide financial support for adoptive children following a divorce. The court will determine what that responsibility should be during divorce proceedings.
As you can imagine, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how best to handle custody of children during a divorce, as the outcome of any custody case will be based on the unique facts and circumstances of each family. In California, courts are required to consider the child’s best interests when making custody decisions, whether the child is adopted or biological.
Qualified California Family Lawyer
If you are considering divorce and have an adopted child, it is essential to speak with a family law attorney who can provide supportive guidance during what can often be a difficult and emotional time for all involved, especially adopted children.
At Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri, we have a team of experienced family law and estate planning attorneys ready to help you navigate your divorce and achieve the best possible outcome for your family’s unique situation. Call 408-553-0801 today to schedule a consultation.