What Happens to Foster Children in a Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be difficult. When children involved are in the process of being adopted or are in foster care, this can threaten their stability. Since the children are a top priority, it is important that adoptive and foster parents understand the impact that a divorce may have on them.

Some of the most common reasons that children are placed in foster care include physical or sexual abuse, neglect, drug abuse, and if one or both parents die. The main goal of foster care is to provide the child with a stable and structured home environment where they can feel safe. If you and your spouse are caring for a foster child and are going through a divorce, there are one of two things that can happen:

  • The child will be removed from your home. When couples are going through a divorce, the home environment can become unstable. A couple who is going through a divorce may also focus their energy and attention on their own problems. Fostering requires parents to report any significant change in circumstances to the social worker who placed the child in the home; a divorce is considered a significant change.
  • The child will remain in your care. There are some situations where a foster child will not be removed from the foster parent’s home. However, this will be based on a number of factors, including:
    • How much time the primary foster parent spends with the child.
    • The caretaker’s ability to financially provide for the child.
    • The caretaker’s ability to support the child through this and other difficult periods.

What Can I Do to Prevent My Foster Child From Being Removed From My Home?

It is up to the social worker assigned to the case to determine whether the child should stay with a foster parent who wishes to continue caring for the child as a single parent. If you are able to clearly demonstrate that you have the financial means to support the foster child and provide a safe, stable, and comfortable home life, the social worker may allow the child to stay in your care.

Will My Divorce Affect the Outcome of an Adoption?

The adoption process does not happen overnight, and the adoptive parents must go through a rigorous application process, including interviews, home visits, and a thorough review of personal and professional references. Adoption agencies work hard to ensure that the child is placed in the best possible home environment, ideally where there are two parents in the home. Once a child has been legally adopted, the people who adopted the child become legal parents.

However, if you are in the process of adopting a child and are going through a divorce, it could impact the outcome of the adoption. In order to proceed with the adoption, you will be required to show the court how you and your spouse plan to care for the child after you are divorced. The court will make a decision about whether the adoption will proceed and whether you and your spouse will share custody.

Keep in mind the adoption could be impacted by your divorce if the biological parents believed their child would be going to a two-parent home. They could have second thoughts about proceeding with the adoption if they feel strongly about placing their child in a family that has two parents who live together. Since the biological parents maintain parental rights until the adoption has been finalized, they can change their mind at any point if they do not believe that a divorced couple is the right choice.

How Can I Help My Adopted Child Cope With a Divorce?

One of the most important things you can do to help your adopted child navigate this difficult time is to prioritize your child’s needs and focus on providing as much stability and consistency as possible. It is also important to maintain the same rules, boundaries, and routines. Maintaining a predictable routine that includes structure and rules can be comforting.

Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Represent Clients With Complex Custody Issues

If you are going through a divorce and have foster children or are going through the adoption process, you are urged to contact one of our Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.