If you adopt a child and then divorce in Florida, your legal rights as an adopted parent are equivalent to those of a biological parent during and after a divorce.
Adoption and child support as well as custody issues can be confusing for divorcing couples, and it is best to seek legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney.
Legal Custody of an Adopted Child
Under Florida law, child custody is legally termed as “time sharing.” The law in the state presumes that joint legal custody (known as “shared parental responsibility”) is in the best interest of every child, including an adopted child.
Legal custody gives a parent the right to make key decisions in the adopted child’s life, including his or her education, health care, and religious training.
If the divorcing parties in Florida disagree about who gets custody of an adopted child, a family court will determine how they will share time with the child. The court may also award sole custody to one parent, if it finds that joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interests.
Child Support if Child is Adopted
Child support is an important aspect of adoption and divorce. Following a full legal adoption, the rights and duties of both the biological parents are legally terminated, while the same rights and duties are bestowed upon the parents who adopt the child.
In the event of a divorce, the legal obligation to make child support payments now lies upon the adopted parents, and not the biological parents.
Child support for adopted child will operate a little differently in the case of a step-parent adoption. If you and your spouse are the biological parents of a child, and you both decide to divorce in Florida, there could be a situation where your ex-spouse’s new partner adopts your biological child (becomes a step-parent).
In this case, you will not be responsible for any future child support payments. However, if you have any arrears, you will be required to pay that outstanding child support obligation.
Key Steps in an Adoption and Divorce
When you and your spouse have decided to go ahead with a divorce, and you both have an adopted child, it is best to seek the legal counsel of an experienced Florida divorce lawyer.
Even if you both still share an amicable relationship, it still helps to have an attorney on your side because they can take the guesswork and uncertainty out of all aspects of your divorce where an adopted child is involved.
The child custody arrangement will be finalized as part of your divorce decree, but the ideal approach would be to have the custody issues worked out as soon as possible. This will allow you and the other parent to incorporate that plan in your adopted child’s life and make their transition easier.
The best way would be if you and the other party can mutually agree on how the issue of custody will be settled.
Even then, your lawyer should meticulously put together the necessary paperwork to ensure that an appropriate custody arrangement is enforceable for now as well as for the future.