An adopted child is viewed in the same way as a biological child by the divorce courts in Colorado. This means if you and your spouse get divorced with an adopted child, matters such as child custody and child support will be determined in much the same way as if the child were biological and born of the marriage. There may be some special considerations, however, related to the adoption. For assistance with a complicated child custody matter, contact a Fort Collins divorce lawyer.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
You and your spouse will have the opportunity to reach a settlement agreement that determines issues such as child custody, visitation and child support on your own, without court intervention. This is what is known as an uncontested divorce case. It may be helpful to use a form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse and avoid a trial. If you cannot reach a settlement regarding custody of an adopted child or another key issue, your divorce case will have to go to court. This means you would have a contested divorce.
Colorado Child Custody Laws
In Colorado, the family courts will look at many different things to determine child custody if your divorce case goes to trial. For the most part, the courts will want the adopted child to remain in contact with both parents. Adoptive parents have a duty to care for and provide for the child as they would with children born of the marriage. However, the main factor is the adopted child’s best interests.
Custody of an adopted child is based on factors such as:
The wishes of both parents and the child
The child’s relationship to either parent
The child’s connection to his or her community and surroundings
The child’s safety and wellbeing
Any special circumstances or special needs the child has
Each parent’s living situation
These are the same factors that are considered when determining custody of a biological child in a divorce case in Colorado. Adopted children also have the right to receive financial support from both parents, meaning the courts may require one spouse (typically the noncustodial parent) to pay the other child support.
Special Considerations for Adopted Children
If the child is one parent’s biological child and the other parent’s adopted child, the courts will value both parental relationships in the same way. The parent with the biological relationship to the child will not receive preference based on this. Each parent will be viewed as the child’s legal parent and treated the same way.
One special issue that may arise in a divorce case involving an adopted child is an adoption subsidy payment. Subsidy payments are given to the child in an amount that may be several hundred dollars each month. If the parents get divorced, the adopted child will continue to receive this subsidy payment until he or she reaches the age of majority.
In general, an adoption subsidy is viewed as the child’s property and does not change how much the noncustodial parent must pay in child support. A portion of the subsidy, however, may be given to the other parent based on his or her share of parenting time. Like child custody and other divorce matters, a couple always has the ability to determine child support on their own before the matter goes to a judge.
What If the Adoption Is Still Pending?
If you and your spouse split up while an adoption is still pending, your divorce may affect the adoption. If the adoptive mother is making the final decision, for instance, she may not give her consent to the adoption after learning of your divorce. In addition, the court in charge of the adoption will consider how the divorce might affect the child. If the birth mother still consents and one parent wishes to proceed with the adoption, there is a chance that it will still go through. These are complicated cases, however, that deserve legal attention. Contact a divorce attorney in Colorado today for more information.