Coates & Frey, Attorneys at Law, LLLC
Phone: (808) 524-4854

Honolulu Family Law Blog

Divorce after adoption: What you need to know

When you began your adoption journey with your spouse, the last thing you probably anticipated was getting divorced. However, you may have been so caught up in the adoption that you overlooked serious red flags in the relationship. Or, maybe your relationship just fell apart, gradually, over time.

Whatever the cause, there are some important things that adoptive parents need to know when they divorce:

  1. A divorce doesn't change a parent's rights or obligations. Once the adoption is final, it's legally as if the child was the biological issue of both parents. This is true even when the adoption involves a stepchild that was biologically related to one parent (like a stepfather adopting his wife's child). Divorce won't end the stepparent's legal custody and visitation rights -- nor that parent's obligation to pay support.
  2. Your child may need extra reassurance. If your child knows that he or she was adopted, the divorce may shake the very foundation of his or her existence. Your child may harbor serious fears that he or she will be abandoned altogether. Counseling and emotional support during this time of adjustment are essential.
  3. Co-parenting agreements can help parents focus on their child's needs. In the case of adoptive parents, it may help to revive the spirit of cooperation and the "can-do" attitude that the couple shared during the adoption process itself. Both parents are encouraged to put aside their differences to support their child.

What traits make someone a difficult spouse?

Everybody has a few bad habits. Sometimes, those habits are so ingrained, however, that they seem to dominate a person's entire personality. That can make them awfully hard people to maintain a relationship with in the long run.

Here are the most toxic personality types to a marriage:

Surviving Thanksgiving after your separation or divorce

The first set of holidays after your separation or divorce can feel like a real ordeal. After all, you're barely used to being on your own again and now you have to somehow navigate the intricacies of a family gathering when your own nuclear family has just dissolved.

You can do it. Here are some tips that will make it easier:

How do you divide a retirement plan in a divorce?

When couples plan to grow old together, that usually means putting money back in retirement accounts. If you end up getting a divorce, however, one of those retirement accounts may have to be split -- especially if one spouse stockpiled significantly more than the other (which isn't uncommon).

Well, you can't simply rely on your divorce decree to actually split the account. Instead, you need to ask the court for a specific judgment that directly addresses the account in question and directs the plan's administrator on how to divide it. This is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO.

Can you deny visitation over unpaid child support in Hawaii?

After a divorce or when parents aren't married, it's common to have an order of support for the child. The child support is generally paid by parent who doesn't have primary custody of the child to the parent that does. While the paying parent doesn't have control over how that money is spent, it's generally assumed that the money will provide the child with food, shelter, clothing, educational needs and other important items.

Unfortunately, some parents just don't pay. Call them "deadbeat" moms or dads, if you like, they can't be shamed into doing what's right by their children. Often, they'll excuse their refusal to send support by claiming they can't live on any less than they have (no matter what their children have to do without) or that they shouldn't have to pay the receiving parent without any say-so over how the money gets spent.

Are high-asset divorces always contentious?

Money can not only be a problem in many marriages, it can also be an issue in a lot of divorces. Some couples seem to end up fighting over every dollar, while others somehow manage to come to a fairly amicable split.

Why is this so?

Reduce your co-parenting stressors

Co-parenting with your spouse can be challenging -- but co-parenting with your ex-spouse can be an actual nightmare. When your relationship with your child's other parent is rocky (at best), you need to find as many ways as you can to reduce your stress.

Here are some tips that will make co-parenting easier:

Holiday travel with your kids as a single parent

In a few weeks, we'll be deep in the winter holiday season. For many parents of young children that means one thing: Lots of traveling so that you can visit grandparents and other relatives. If this is your first year doing it alone after your divorce or separation, here are some survival tips:

1. Control expectations.

Is it time for a divorce?

How do you know if it's time to call "quits" on your marriage and get a divorce? Absent a sudden, shocking event, many unhappy marriages will drift along for a while simply because neither spouse wants to be the one to upset the status quo.

There comes a time, however, when it is far smarter and saner to set yourself -- and your spouse -- free. It's probably time to get a divorce when:

  • You can't stand physical contact with your spouse. If you find yourself shying away from your spouse's touch, that's a sign that you've emotionally removed yourself from the marriage already.
  • You get excited at the idea of being alone. Maybe you catch yourself thinking about how you'd decorate if your spouse weren't there, or maybe you're just thinking how much less stressful it will be not to be trapped in an unhappy relationship.
  • You can't picture a future life with your spouse because the whole idea is depressing. Or, you can picture a future life together -- and you hate everything about it.
  • You're angry and resentful about your spouse's behavior. Maybe those feelings have been building. Resentment often leads to contempt -- a sure marriage-killer.
  • You've tried therapy. Whether you went alone or your spouse went with you, therapy is often a last-ditch attempt to preserve a marriage. If it doesn't help, that's a sign that one or both of you simply isn't invested in a better outcome.

Should you ask for a modification of custody?

What can you do when the child custody agreement you have with your ex-spouse no longer seems to be working? Do you try to negotiate directly with them to see if you can come to an informal agreement, or do you take the matter to court?

It depends.

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