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Divorce After Adoption: What Happens to the Child?

Divorce After Adoption: What Happens to the Child?

Parents who adopt a child do so with the intention to love and care for the child; to provide them with a stable, loving environment in which to thrive. It is an honorable pursuit. It is fairly rare for a couple to seek adoption with simultaneous intentions to seek a divorce. Yet as we all know, plans change and like everything else we wish to avoid in life, divorce sometimes happens. Some may end up in a specific moment when they must ask themselves, “What effect does divorce have our adopted child?”

Once the adoption is finalized, the divorce has no effect on the legal parental rights of the adoptive mother and adoptive father. The divorce of the adoptive parents also has no affect on the legal rights of the birth parents as their rights have already been terminated and they no longer hold any legal decision making abilities for the child. A divorce does not provide the birthparents with the right to contest the divorce or challenge decisions of the court regarding parenting time and legal decision making unless the adoption consent was provided with the specific understanding that the child would be entering a two-parent household, but the adoptive parents were planning the divorce prior to completing the adoption process (without advising the birth parents). In this particular instance, the birthparents could have a case for fraud, but would need to consult with an experienced family law attorney for specific information.

Except in the very specific type of situation mentioned above, adopted children are treated the same as biological children during the divorce process. The Court decides issues of parenting time, legal decision-making and child support according to the law and the best interests of the child. It is highly recommended that special care be taken with adopted children whose parents are going through a divorce. Children who are adopted have, technically speaking, already suffered loss in their life. Extra attention is warranted during the divorce process to ensure that any emotional needs of the adopted child are met. Adopted children are more likely to experience feelings of abandonment or guilt (blaming themselves for the divorce) in comparison to biological children. Some families in this situation find that family or individual counseling can be beneficial, and potentially necessary, in order to help the child avoid negative effects related to the situation. Parents who wish to minimize the negative affect of divorce on their adopted child can take classes or undergo counseling focused on how to work together during and after the divorce to parent their adopted child in a way that will be most effective.

If you have questions regarding the effect of divorce on your adopted children or the Arizona divorce process, please get in touch with Arizona Family Law Attorneys where experienced divorce and adoption lawyers are ready to answer your questions.

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