Heymann & Fletcher

Child custody dispute centers on termination of parental rights

An unusual and distressing custody battle is currently underway in one southern state, and parents in New Jersey and across the nation are following the matter to see how it will be resolved. The child custody dispute is between a biological father and a prospective adoptive family, and centers on the manner in which the father's parental rights were terminated. As with so many custody cases involving a challenged adoption, there may be no real "winners" once the dust settles and the issue has been resolved.

The child was placed in the care of a foster family shortly after birth, due to the fact that the hospital found traces of benzoylecgonine and cocaine in her system. The child's father was incarcerated at that time for charges related to fraud, bank notes/coins, probation violations and contempt of court. The couple eventually decided to pursue adoption, and filed to have the father's parental rights terminated. They succeeded, but the father appealed upon his recent release, and won that appeal.

The parties are now braced for a bitter fight over who will have the right to raise the little girl. The biological father claims that his rights were terminated without his even being present in the courtroom. The prospective adoptive parents may have an edge in the case, however, due to the length of time that the child has lived in their home, as well as the fact that they are also raising one of her siblings and remain in contact with her biological mother, who supports the adoption.  

New Jersey readers can likely view both sides of this child custody dispute with a degree of sympathy. Biological parents have the right to be active in the lives of their children, even when they have made serious mistakes in their own lives. However, taking a child in and completing an adoption forms a strong parental bond, and breaking that link can be difficult for both the adoptive parents and the child.

Source: Fox News, "Parents in fight with adopted child's ex-con dad to keep custody of the 3-year-old girl", Christina Corbin, Feb. 7, 2017

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