How to Get Child Custody of An Adoptive Child
Adoption is often a mutually beneficial arrangement between an adoptive couple and the birth parents of the child, but things like divorce can complicate the matter. In a typical divorce, custody and child support arrangements are largely determined just as they would be with a birth child in the mix. However, if divorce proceedings start before the adoption process is finalized, the birth parents can claim fraud and cause the adoption to become null and void.
Child Custody of An Adoptive Child
Custody of any children in a marriage, whether they be birth children, adoptive children or a child that was adopted by one of the parents when they were the birth child of the other, is largely determined by the courts. If a couple can’t come to a mutually agreed-upon arrangement for custody, they will usually go through mediation to determine if an arrangement can be found. If mediation fails in this arena, the court will be given the responsibility of determining the best arrangement for the child and which parent is determined to be the most fit for full-time custody.
Unless one of the parents is determined to be abusive or otherwise dangerous, joint custody arrangements are usually used. Any evidence offered that shows the other parent may be unfit to care for the child unsupervised can be presented as reason to award custody to the safer parent.
Final arrangements may result in only one parent being awarded custody, but more often they will split custody with the other parent – either splitting time evenly between the parents, or one parent keeping the child during the week and giving them to the other parent every other weekend.
Child Support payments
Child support payments are largely determined by who is awarded main custody of the child and the income of the other parent. Higher incomes are typically ordered to pay higher child support payments, as this is the life the child has become accustomed to.
Payments are fluid and can change over time, as either parent may take the other to court if there are measurable changes in income or behavior, or even the amount of time spent with one parent versus the other.
Child support payments typically end after the child turns 18, unless they are enrolled in a college program. Some states require continued payments while the child is in school until reaching the age of 21.
If a couple has decided to divorce while still in the process of adopting a child, the birth parents can file a claim of fraud against them. In this case, the birth parent or parents can decide to stop all adoption proceedings and take custody of the child back.
Most birth parents decide to put their child up for adoption hoping that an adoptive couple can provide a safer, better home for the child, and often want the child in a two-parent household. When divorce is one of the first things happening in the adoptive household after taking an adoptive child in under their wing, this can easily cause feelings of abandonment and stress for the child.
If divorce proceedings start before the adoption is legalized, the birth parents can still choose to continue with the adoption. The judge may also determine that one parent may proceed in the adoption, or deny the adoption altogether.
Steps When Seeking Custody
- If you have already been through a divorce and weren’t awarded custody of the adoptive child, the first step in trying to reverse the court’s decision is to follow all court orders in the matter. Unless the child is in immediate danger, obey all limits the court has placed on you as far as visitation and custody orders.
- Even if you are only allowed visitation or part-time custody, continue to be an active parent as much as possible in the child’s life. Arguments can easily arise over doctor’s appointments, school and sports events and even parent-teacher conferences. If the custodial parent creates conflict over you being involved in these things, you can ask the court to modify the custody order to include your rights to be involved and informed.
- Seek legal help if you’re trying to navigate a child custody case on your own. Laws differ state by state, and an informed family law professional can help you navigate the courts and processes for trying to change a custody order related to your adopted child.
- Watch your conduct. Make sure nothing in your life can possibly be put into question about whether it affects the well-being of the child. This can include recreational drinking, drug use, illegal activity and even relationships with questionable people. If you plan on fighting for custody, you have to make sure that the court will only find that the environment you would provide would foster a loving, caring atmosphere for that child to flourish in the future.