If you have legally adopted one or more children, your state’s laws give you the same parental rights to them as to your biological children. In a divorce situation, this means that – absent extenuating circumstances – you have just as much right to custody of them as your spouse does, even if he or she is their biological parent.
As an adoption lawyer, from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, divorce courts today show no preference for mothers or fathers when it comes to custody. All things being equal, each of you has the same right to custody. In fact, today’s preferred custody arrangement is shared custody and parenting time, wherein your children spend a relatively equal amount of time with you and your former spouse at your respective homes or elsewhere.
A court must always seek to serve the best interests of the child when it has to make custody decisions because the divorcing parents cannot agree on custody. You likely will have a poorer chance of gaining custody of your children, natural or adopted, if your spouse can present evidence to the court of any of the following:
- You have a documented history of domestic violence or child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
- You have a documented history of mental or emotional problems that could endanger your children.
- Your living arrangements and conditions are such that they are not suitable for children.
- You are a convicted criminal serving a long prison sentence.
- You abandoned your spouse and children.
Not only will you have great difficulty getting custody of your children under the above (or similar) circumstances, but the court may grant you only supervised visitation. This means that you can only see your children at a designated location and for a designated period of time while a responsible adult – likely a social worker or child psychologist – monitors your visit and ensures your children’s safety.
Getting Legal Help
If you intend to divorce and you believe that your spouse will fight you for custody, your wisest course of action is to seek the advice, counsel and representation of an experienced local child custody lawyer. If you are the father of the children in question, you may wish to seek out a lawyer who practices in the area of fathers’ rights. In any event, your lawyer can help you construct the strongest custody case possible and aggressively protect your legal rights in court. The legal fee you pay undoubtedly will be more than worth it if it grants you a meaningful relationship with your biological and adopted children.