What Happens During a Divorce With an Adopted Child?

What Happens During a Divorce With an Adopted Child?

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Any permanent changes to the structure of a family are life-changing events. Adding a child to the family through adoption is a joyful change, while a divorce separating a family into two households is usually an unhappy time in a family’s life.

Child custody is often the most contentious aspect of divorce, but what happens when a family with an adopted child faces this issue? Many Colorado parents ask, “What happens during a divorce when a family has an adopted child?”

An Adopted Child’s Legal Rights in a Colorado Divorce

Adopted children have the same legal rights as biological children when their parents divorce. The court upholds the standard of making all decisions in the best interests of the children. In matters of child custody, Colorado courts begin with the premise that continued close contact with both parents is what’s in a child’s best interest.

Unless one parent rebuts this presumption with evidence that it’s not in a child’s best interest, the court usually tries to divide child custody between parents as close to 50/50 as possible between both parents after considering factors such as distance between residences, the family’s work and school schedules, and any medical considerations or child’s special needs.

Forming a Settlement Agreement vs Contested Divorce in Colorado

When parents divorce in Colorado, they have the option of forming a settlement agreement between themselves rather than disputing issues in court for a judge to decide for them.

Colorado courts encourage parents to work out their child custody arrangements together by choosing a shared parenting time schedule that works for their family’s unique circumstances. This includes a custody agreement for an adopted child since the courts do not differentiate between biological and adopted children in child custody and child support decisions.

Are There Special Considerations For Adopted Children During Divorce?

Are There Any Special Considerations for Adopted Children During Divorce?

In Colorado, the parents of some adopted children receive state subsidies to aid with the care and education of children, particularly those with unique needs.

The subsidies assist parents with managing the expenses associated with a child’s previous trauma. Although an adopted child’s subsidy isn’t counted toward either parent’s gross income because it belongs to the child, the state may need to divide the child’s subsidy between households according to the number of overnight stays the child has with each parent.

In some circumstances, the child’s status as an adopted child might impact custody decisions. For example, if the child has any unique needs for their emotional well-being or mental health. Parents must inform the court of any special circumstances that apply to their adopted child’s physical or emotional health.

If the adopted child is the biological child of one parent and adopted by the other parent, the court views the adopted parent the same as the biological parent with the right to an equal share of child custody. The child’s biological parent does not receive preferential treatment in court custody decisions.

What If Parents Divorce Before Finalizing a Child’s Adoption?

Divorce and child custody become legally and emotionally complex if a child’s adoption remains pending during the divorce. Divorcing spouses should be aware that a birth mother could change her mind upon learning of this major change in circumstances.

The adoption process is likely to stall as the adoptive parents decide if one or both parents still wish to adopt the child and if the child’s biological parent wants to proceed under the new circumstances.