Lila Downs

Divorcing your partner when you have children.

Yetta Answers Your Real-life Legal Questions
Dear Yetta:

My partner and I are separating after eight years of being together. We have three children. I am the biological parent, but my ex adopted them when we were together. I really can’t stand her these days. Is there a way to undo the adoption?


Breakups can be very difficult, especially when children are involved.  Having said that, adopting a child is not one of those things that can simply be undone.

For many good reasons, the legal process of adoption conveys the same rights and responsibilities as biology. This means, if your ex has legally adopted your children through the Surrogates Court or the Family Court, your ex is considered an equal parent to you, the biological parent. She has the same rights, privileges and just as importantly, responsibilities to the children as you do. This means that she has the right to petition the Court for custody and visitation. She also carries responsibility for child support, and the Court must make a determination on this based on the best interest of children, not on the different way you both came to be these children's parents. You cannot undo the adoption, although in extreme cases, meeting certain criteria that I have not heard present here, parental rights of either the biological or adoptive parent may be terminated for cause.

This cuts both ways because the adoptive parent can’t also simply claim that they are not the biological parent and therefore not responsible for the support and care of their children. Ultimately it is about what is best for your children, despite it being a difficult time for you personally.

The most important thing to remember is that the problems you are having with your ex should not impact what is best for your children. I hope this is helpful.

Good luck,
Yetta

Email questions to kurland@helloworld.edu or call 212-253-6911

*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney.



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