Does Divorce Affect Adoptions in Illinois?
Parents who adopt aim to give the child/children a stable, loving environment to grow up in. Couples rarely adopt children with plans to divorce. But as we know, it doesn’t always pan out that way.
After any adoption, with respect to minor children, if the parties divorce, the adoptive parent may have the same duties and parental responsibilities in regard to child support and other issues as though the minor child was his or her natural child. Here’s what you need to know.
Different Types of Adoption in Illinois
There are four main types of minor adoption that are commonly used in Illinois:
- Related Adoption: Also called a “kinship” adoption, occurs in a situation where the child is adopted by family members, i.e, stepparent, grandparent, sibling, or aunt and uncle. This form of adoption is often the easiest to navigate, because some procedures and requirements may be waived.
- Agency Adoption: In an agency adoption, the parents receive the child from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or a licensed private adoption agency. The biological parents have already surrendered the child to the state or had their parental rights terminated.
- Private Adoption: A private adoption occurs when the adoptive parents receive the child directly from the biological family.
- Standby Adoption: A standby adoption is a legal arrangement that becomes effective after a specific event occurs, such as the death of a biological parent.
It’s important to note that Illinois also allows for adult adoptions. Adult adoption happens when a person over 18 is adopted by loved ones they have lived with for a substantial amount of time. The adult being adopted must give consent. However, biological parents do not need to give their approval.
Impact of Divorce on Adoption
When a married couple decides to adopt a child, they typically do so together, as joint petitioners. This means that both parents are legally responsible for the child, and both must consent to any decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and medical care. However, if the couple divorces before the adoption is finalized, the situation becomes more complicated.
In Illinois, the adoption process is generally governed by the Illinois Adoption Act. According to this act, if a married couple begins the adoption process and then decides to divorce before the adoption is finalized, the court must determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
The court will consider various factors when making this determination, including the child’s age, health, and well-being, as well as the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving home for the child. If the court determines that the adoption is still in the child’s best interests, the adoption can proceed, but the non-adopting spouse will no longer be considered a legal parent of the child.
On the other hand, if the court determines that the adoption is no longer in the child’s best interests, the adoption will be terminated, and the child will remain in the care of their birth parents or legal guardians.
Impact of Divorce on Stepparent Adoption
In some cases, a stepparent may wish to adopt their spouse’s child after a divorce. This process is known as stepparent adoption, and it is subject to different rules than traditional adoption.
Under Illinois law, a stepparent may adopt their spouse’s child if the following conditions are met:
- The stepparent is married to the child’s legal parent.
- The child’s other legal parent has consented to the adoption or had their parental rights terminated by a court.
- The adoption is in the best interests of the child.
If the stepparent meets these requirements, they may petition the court to adopt the child. However, if the legal parent of the child objects to the adoption, the court will have to determine whether the adoption is in the best interests of the child.
If the legal parent does not object, the adoption can proceed without the need for a court hearing, and the stepparent will become the child’s legal parent.
Divorce can have a significant impact on adoption proceedings in Illinois, and it is important to understand the laws and regulations that govern these situations. If you are considering adoption or are going through a divorce while in the process of adopting, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help guide you through the legal process and protect your rights and the best interests of the child.
At Masters Law Group, our team of skilled attorneys can help guide you through the divorce process and explain the legal implications of how adopted children could be affected.
Schedule a consultation today to begin the conversation.