Two Detroit-area nurses officially adopted five children last Thursday, ending the saga during which the couple challenged Michigan's restrictions on adoption. Their challenge cleared the way for the landmark decision last year by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing gay marriage. Adoption is a legal process by which parents and children gain legal rights and obligations toward one another. Adoption serves to create a new parent-child relationship. Adoption generally severs the birth parents legal rights to the child.
Michigan allows several different types of adoptions. Each adoption has different requirements, but they all serve to create some sort of legal relationship. That legal relationship changes upon divorce. Unfortunately, parents that adopt children do sometimes divorce and the issue then switches into child custody matters. A divorce between couples with adopted children is the same as it is for biological children. The adoptive parents both have parental rights over the children, and the courts will use the same standards to determine child custody matters.
The court follows a guideline of factors to determine the eligibility of parents for custody, but none of these are binding. The judge may make any rule that ensures the interests of the child remain a primary consideration. The only binding standard upon the judge is to protect the welfare of the child. The court will consider every possible factor from school locations, age, how much each parent works, who is getting the marital home, the location of the child's friends, social support, any presence of abuse and anything else the judge deems relevant.
An attorney can use the facts available in an effort to build a strong case. But an attorney may not use every single fact, and this is when litigation strategy comes into play. However, it is helpful if every fact is at your attorney's disposal. Usually, the judge will order some sort of joint custody with visitation. It is believed that, except in extreme circumstances, it is best if both parents contribute to the raising of the children. An experienced family law attorney can help you fight for your rights to maintain your relationship with your children.
Source: New York Times, "Michigan: Adoption Case at Center of Gay Marriage Ruling Ends," The Associated Press, Nov. 5, 2015