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Child Custody, Child Support, and Florida Adoption

Many individuals facing a divorce have similar questions. To be sure, often clients in the beginning stages of the divorce process generally ask who will get the house, whether the marital estate will be split equally, and even how retirement funds will be treated. In other cases, divorcing spouses with kids from multiple marriages may wonder about child support. In fact, some parents may ask an important question: “Will I be responsible for child support for my spouse’s children from a prior marriage?

You may be thinking, “Well of course not. A stepparent doesn’t have a duty to financially support stepchildren, especially not when the marriage that resulted in the step family arrangement has ended.”

Yet this question may have a twist. Consider the same example, only imagine that a few years prior, the asking spouse had legally adopted the other spouse’s children. But now, the asking spouse wanted nothing more to do with them.

Florida Adoption Laws

Once a Florida adoption is finalized, it creates a relationship between the adopted person and the petitioner (person initiating the adoption) that would have existed if the adopted person were a blood relative of the petitioner.

In this case, it means that in the eyes of the law, our potential client was the children’s parent, despite the fact that he or she was not biologically related. The law created that biological relationship once the adoption decree was signed. And this means that, despite the fact that the marriage with the children’s other parent is over, the relationship between the children and this adopted parent is not. As the child’s legal parent, the potential client has the same duty to pay child support as if he were the children’s biological parent. This is true even if the adoption was finalized only a few months prior to start of divorce proceedings.

Now, consider this situation specifically looking at the wife who happens to be the biological parent. She has no desire to share custody with her soon-to-be ex-spouse, and is willing to forgo child support if it means she’ll get 100% custody of her biological children. Unfortunately for the wife, the same rules that bind the parents to the children and require them to pay child support apply to child custody. It makes no difference that the father is not their biological parent. The adoption made their relationship legal, and the only way the wife will be awarded 100% custody (assuming no other factors that would warrant such a decision) is if her husband doesn’t want custody.

Adoption creates a legal relationship between the adopted parent and child that nothing except a later adoption can undo.

Boca Raton Family Law Attorney

The Boca Raton family law attorneys at Schwartz l White have more than 50 years’ combined experience assisting clients with child support, child custody and adoption cases. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping you reach a mutually agreeable resolution to all of your family law issues, and are ready to aggressively represent your case in court if necessary. Contact us today at 561.391.9943, or complete our web form, to schedule a free initial consultation.

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