Divorce can be a tricky, emotional issue when children are involved. Can the fact that a child was adopted add to this already complicated issue? Does this situation change if the child is the biological offspring of one parent but adopted by the other? If you are worried about whether or not a child’s adoption history will be a factor, call a family law attorney and receive a consultation sooner rather than later.

If a Child is Adopted Does That Change Who Gets Custody in a Divorce?

Every situation is different. Each custody question should be taken on a case-by-case basis and judged fairly to best ensure that the needs of the child are met. You may think that a biological parent may be more likely to be given custody over a former step-parent who adopted the child. In the state of California, this is not the case. California law is relatively clear that no matter the type of adoption, the adoptive parent is considered the legal parent of the child. If adoption has taken place, there are no legal differences between an adoptive parent and a biological parent.

As is true in cases of biological children, there are two major types of custody to consider when dealing with adopted children: Legal and Physical Custody.

What Are the Legal Issues Related to Custody of Adopted Children?

When using the term “Legal Custody,” a court is referring to which parent will be making major decisions regarding that child’s education, safety, and welfare. The parents may be granted joint legal custody and share the right to make these decisions for the child, or one parent may be granted sole legal custody. Generally, if the parents agree on the decisions relating to the welfare of the child, a court will grant joint legal custody.

The following is a non-extensive list of issues that can affect which parent is granted legal custody in the case of a custody battle:

  • Where the child will attend school
  • Safety precautions a child will need
  • Special needs a child may have
  • Parents making unilateral decisions excluding the other parent

What Are the Physical Issues Related to Custody of Adopted Children?

When a court considers a child’s “Physical Custody,” they are looking at which parent the child will reside with and who will care for the child on a day-to-day basis. Generally, the court will decide this based on the best interest of the child as determined by the court.

The following is a non-extensive list of issues that may affect which parent receives physical custody:

  • Nature and frequency of contact with each or both parents
  • The child’s health and welfare, as well as the child’s general safety
  • History of physical or emotional abuse by one parent (toward the child or other parent)
  • Which parent will most likely facilitate contact between the child and the other parent

What Do I Do If I Am Concerned About My Adopted Child?

In California, an adoptive parent has rights equal to a biological parent’s rights as far as the law is concerned. If you and your spouse are likely to enter into a custody arrangement over a child, adopted or otherwise, it would be wise to seek the guidance of an attorney with a background in family law. Contact the Law Office of Patrick O’Kennedy today at (714) 919-1855 for consultation.