What are the Effects of Divorce on the Adoption Process?
Adopting a child has its own distinctive set of problems. The normal changes to a family dynamic when a child is added can be exacerbated by concerns that the biological parents might contest the adoption or that the Judge may not approve their petition. The child may have medical issues that were not anticipated. There can be issues with bonding. Hopefully, the adoptive parents can join together and support each other to manage these concerns. What happens when the issues become too much and one or both of the adoptive parents begin contemplating divorce? In most cases, the adoptive parents will continue to desire to maintain their relationship with the child even if the marriage ends, but what happens if one parent no longer wants to go through with the adoption? In cases such as these, an adoption attorney should be consulted immediately to minimize the effects of the divorce on the child as much as possible.
Two-Parent or Single Parent Adoption
A person in Florida does not need to be married to adopt a child. An unmarried adult is allowed to adopt under the law. A married person can adopt individually, without his or her spouse joining as a petitioner, in certain circumstances. Most often, this occurs in Step-parent adoptions where the spouse is also the child’s biological parent so adoption is not necessary. In other instances, the Court can approve the individual adoption of a child by a married person if it finds that it is in the child’s best interest or for good cause shown. In this situation, hiring an adoption attorney in Clearwater, Florida will be to your benefit. You want to ensure that both the child’s rights and those of the adoptive parent are protected under the law.
What Happens If You File for a Divorce Before the Adoption Is Finalized?
If your adoption is already pending with the Court when you or your spouse files for divorce, the effects on your adoption case could be varied. If your spouse no longer wants to go through with the adoption, you may be able to modify your Adoption Petition and go forward as a single parent adoption. Some types of adoption require that a home study be performed and filed with the Court. Separation from your spouse is an event that would require you to file an updated favorable home study before the Judge will enter a Final Judgment of Adoption. If the biological parents’ rights have not yet been terminated by the Court, then there could be complications. There may be an issue with the wording used in the birth parent’s consent to the adoption.
In a step-parent adoption situation, it is highly unlikely that the adoption will be approved by the Court if the spouse who is the birth parent no longer consents to the adoption. If both parties still want the step-parent adoption to go forward, then you and your spouse will need to work together to address timing issues and may wish to put your divorce on hold until such time as the adoption is finalized. The Court must be notified of your separation and will need to make a determination that going forward with the adoption is in the best interests of your child.
It is best to get the advice of an adoption attorney right away if you are in the process of adopting a child and are contemplating termination of your marriage.
Divorcing After the Adoption Is Final
If you and your spouse have already finalized your adoption, then the children are treated as if you are their birth parents during the divorce process. The Court will make determinations as to parental responsibility, timesharing and child support.
At this point, helping your children transition to their new normal is what is most important. Even though your marriage is over, it is up to both you and your former spouse to maintain the care and support provided while the marriage was intact. The effects of divorce are negative only if you make them that way. For the sake of your children, you should make every attempt to stay positive and work together.
If you live in or near Clearwater, Florida and are at any stage in the adoption process and are now contemplating divorce, work together to help bring about the best outcome for your child and minimize the effects of divorce. Call Julie Beth Jouben, P.A. At our office and get the answers to all of your questions. As a family law attorney who specializes in adoptions, she can help guide you along the right path so that divorce does not dampen your adoption joy.