Divorce After Adoption

divorce attorney Jill Duffy

By Jill A. Duffy

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

The decision to adopt a child give the child what you hope will be a stable, loving environment to grow up in is an honorable one. Couples rarely adopt children with plans to divorce. But as we know, divorce happens.

After an adoption has been finalized, a divorce does not affect the legal parental rights of the adoptive parents. The legal rights of the birth parents have been terminated and they no longer have decision-making abilities concerning the child.

The biological parents of an adopted child whose adopted parents are going through a divorce do not have standing to contest the divorce, the new custody arrangement, or to get the child back.

There is one caveat to the idea that the biological parents are completely cut off after the adoption, though.

If the biological parents gave consent to the adoption with the understanding that the child would be going into a two-parent home, but the adoptive parents were planning a divorce during the adoption process and did not disclose this to the biological parents, the biological parents have a basis to argue that their consent to the adoption was not informed.

The biological parents can argue that the adoptive parents perpetrated a fraud upon the biological parents and the court by not disclosing their plans to divorce during the adoption process. The consent of the biological parents can be deemed voidable or revoked, and if in the best interests of the child, the child can be returned to them.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Adopted children in a divorce will be treated the same way biological children are treated. Courts will decide issues of custody, support and parenting time in accordance with what they believe is in the best interests of the child.

If an adopted child receives a governmental adoption subsidy (funds to help the child and their new family), the subsidy will not affect the adoptive parents obligation to pay child support.

Federal adoption subsidies are designed to offset some of the costs associated with a special needs child. A child’s disability, and the funds they receive for it, has nothing to do with the adoptive parents’ income or ability to support the child. Most states will not consider those funds when issuing a child support order.

Special care should be taken with adopted children during the divorce process. Adopted children have, by definition, suffered a previous loss. Special attention should be paid to their emotional needs during the divorce process. Family or individual counseling may be necessary to ensure that the child is not negatively affected throughout the process.

Adopted children are more likely to feel abandoned or at fault for the divorce than the biological children of the marriage. Parents of adopted children may also take classes or have counseling regarding how to work together to parent the child after the divorce and to minimize the impact of their actions on the child.

Read related article: Divorce During Adoption

Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

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2 comments on “Divorce After Adoption

    Do adoptive parents divorce as often, more often or less often than natural parents?

    Do adoptive fathers seek divorce from the children’s natural mothers more, as much, or less often than adopting mothers from natural fathers?

    Do a child’s adoptive parents reveal the causes of their divorce to being based the child(ren)’s inability to adapt to the adoptive home?

    You may not have generated these numbers, but I hope you have access to them.

    Non-biological father
    I raised my kids since 2000. My daughter was born in 1998 and my son was born in 1997. There biological father divorced there biological mother in 1999 and left, never to see them much again. He never provided child support and the mother never tried to fight for it. I meet the kids Mother in early 2000 and by December we were living together and I was taking care of the kids mostly since she was a traveling sales person and I worked a 9 to 5 job and was home alot. We married in 2003, but in 2006 My wife (the kids Biological mother) had an affair with another man. We went to counseling and she told the counselor that she was worried that I would leave her, and that’s why she did it. The counselor suggested that I legally adopted the kids to prove my love and devotion. It took a lawyer and a home study and a few thousand dollars, but it was done on April 1, 2009. I was the kids Legal father. My wife then had another affair starting December of 2009 and left me and the kids this time for another woman March of 2010. She claimed to me and to her parents that she was always Homosexual and was just trying to keep her parents happy and felt that I always loved the kids more than her. The kids were devastated and confused, but I told them I loved them and would never leave them. August of 2010 the kids mother wanted to have the kids visit and see them, I only agreed if they were not around the other woman. By Sept 0f 2010 She wanted them always and told me that they were her kids and they would be better off being raised by 2 mothers then 1 non-biological man. Up until that point, I was trying to settle the divorce with a Student who was attending college to become a lawyer. So my info was not professional or expensive. Besides, My wife told me she was leaving and took off for almost 5 months straight, with no contact to the kids. I hired an attorney and filed for divorce and the courts gave us joint custody at first. By November though the kids were having a tough time with her female love (BTW never had kids) in which she attacked my son and my daughter. I was granted a emergency hearing and was granted primary custody as of November 2010. I have tried to get her to pay child support, medical bills, school bills and supplies since then, and also filed for contempt against her neglects towards the kids. between March of 2011 to December of 2011. 5 hearings were scheduled and she was able to get 5 continuances. The next hearing is April of 2012. This roller coaster ride has been taxing on my health and the kids youth. Is there any help that you know of for the kids to receive? they feel out of touch with there mom and feel as if they lost there youth and feel as if there future is gone also. I work as much as I can, but with this bad economy, it is hard to do both mother and father to teenagers and make them feel as they belong to a true family.

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