Adoptive Parents Have Same Rights as Biological Parents

Divorce proceedings can be difficult for both parties concerned, but even more so when children are involved. Determining custody can be a complex matter, but as with any decision involving children, it must be done with their best interests in mind. Child custody can be determined by an agreement between the parents, but if that fails it can be resolved by the court.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled for an adoptive mother in a child custody case. The couple was married in 2006. The wife was aware that a former girlfriend of the husband was pregnant at the time they got married. After the child was born, the couple obtained custody of the baby from the child's biological mother. The couple also had a child together later in their marriage.

The couple divorced in 2011 and the wife was granted primary physical custody of the two children. The husband appealed the ruling with respect to the oldest child, claiming the wife was a third party as an adoptive parent. He also argued that in disputes between parents and third parties, it's presumed to be in the child's best interest to be with the parent. The state Supreme Court ruled the presumption could be surmounted if placement with a third party is in the child's best interest. They also stated that adoptive parents have identical privileges and obligations as biological parents.

Several custody situations dictate that one parent has primary physical custody of a child and the child will live with them as the custodial parent. However, many parents request that they be allowed to share legal custody with the non-custodial parent. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions concerning the child's education and health care, among other things.

In determining which parent obtains custody, a court must be guided by what is in the child's best interest. There are many factors to consider in this determination and often times the main factor is which parent has been the primary caretaker for the child.

Determining child custody can be a difficult and complex matter in any divorce proceeding. It is important for every parent to be aware of their rights in such matters, as well as the various custody arrangements available and the considerations taken into account when deciding which arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

Source: The Telegraph, "Georgia Supreme Court rules for adoptive mother in Putnam custody case," Oct. 1, 2012

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