California Divorce And Adopted Children

adopted children

When children are involved in a divorce, things become more complicated. Whether the children are adopted or not, it’s an emotional and tricky issue. When a child is adopted, the parents become their legal parents, meaning certain legal rights and responsibilities are created. Adoptive parents have all the same responsibilities for their adopted children as they would biological children once the adoption process is complete. Parents must take care of their adopted child, providing for their education, housing, and medical care. 

It does not matter if you are the child’s biological parents or if you have adopted children. Your legal relationship with your adopted children will not change just because of a separation or divorce. Your divorce will be treated just like any other divorce by the court system, and you can create a child custody schedule that best suits your and your family’s needs. 

Who Gets Custody Of Adopted Children In A Divorce?

Some may think that a biological parent may be given custody over a former step-parent who adopted the child. Still, in California, the law is clear that regardless of the type of adoption, the adoptive parent is considered a legal guardian. There are no legal differences between an adoptive parent and a biological parent. There is a common primary concern that because one parent has the biological link, they may have an advantage in custody arrangements versus the adopted parent. Still, the adoptive parent has the same legal rights as the non-adoptive biological mother or father during the divorce.

It is important to note that every situation is different, and custody is determined on a case-by-case basis. Regardless, the child’s needs are always at the forefront of any decision. Decisions will be made regarding the child’s education, safety, and welfare.

Types of Custody

Both parents have the legal right to seek custody. In the same way the court would treat a biological child when determining custody, the court wants to ensure a stable, safe relationship between both parents after the divorce. Once both parents have created independent households, the time spent with each can be determined. Families can make their child custody agreements, but if this cannot be decided upon, the court can decide as a part of the divorce proceedings and in the child’s best interest.

There are a few different custody possibilities:

Physical vs. Legal Custody

Physical custody is physically having the child under your roof. Legal custody is having the right to make crucial decisions on behalf of the child, like with their medical care, general safety, schooling, or religion. The courts can award both types of custody to one or both parents or divide the types of custody between the two parents.

Joint Custody

They are also known as shared custody; this means the adopted child will spend part of their time with one parent and the rest with the other. The exact time division will depend on the case and will not always be a 50/50 split, as it needs to be practical and in the child’s best interest. Despite this, joint custody vs. shared custody arrangements highlight the nuanced differences in parental responsibilities and living arrangements post-divorce or separation.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is where 100 percent of the child custody is given to one legal parent. In this case, which is typically uncommon in California courts, the noncustodial parent might have specific visitation rights.

After a custody settlement or court-ordered agreement is determined, both parties must obey the order, though it is possible to request a modification if you have valid reasoning. In the event of significant change, parents can seek out modification of the original order.

Concerned About Your Adopted Child During A Divorce? Let Us Help

Regardless of the biological relationship, when parents have taken on the legal responsibility of their adopted child, child support can be awarded based on state laws. The amount of financial support is decided by a calculator that considers both parents’ incomes and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. This helps determine the amount for the guideline child support.

With divorce being such an emotional and important pivot in life, it can feel scary to go at it alone. It can be challenging to navigate through all the proceedings, and having someone in your corner who can guide you with your and your family’s best interest in mind is important. At Azemika Law, we are here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. We serve all of Kern County and want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.