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Adoptive parents win child custody battle with natural father

In Missouri and other states, a natural parent does not always have superior rights to his or her child over an adoptive parent. Where a natural parent tries to challenge the rights of adoptive parents after the adoption has been duly processed and finalized by court order, the biological parent will usually have a tough legal challenge to overcome. However, each child custody case by necessity involves a very personal and in-depth determination that cannot be predicted in advance.

The Supreme Court of another state recently resolved a child custody case between adoptive parents and the biological father. The adoptive parents were originally the child's foster parents, a role they assumed when the girl was 3-weeks-old. After a few years in that capacity, they adopted the girl when the biological mother relinquished her parental rights.

At that time, the state court judge also terminated the parental rights of the father, who was incarcerated for fraud at the time. The judge found that the father did not try to support the child. However, an appeals court reversed that decision after the father was released and complained. The adoptive parents asked for a reconsideration, which they lost. They then appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

That state's highest court reversed the appeals court and reinstated the validity of the adoption. The holding is not explained in news reports, but it is likely based on the trial court's original decision wherein the court found that the father had not acted as a parent nor even tried to support the child. This child custody and parental rights decision also upheld the vitality of the adoption laws and the right of adoptive parents to not be disrupted from their parental relationship after having gone through a years-long legal process where all requirements were satisfied. Under the facts of this case, the proper decision was made, and it would likely be the same decision that would result from a Missouri court's similar in-depth evaluation.

Source:, "5-year-old Rock Hill girl to stay with adoptive parents, likely", May 9, 2018

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