Heymann & Fletcher

Emotions run high in this controversial child custody battle

People who open their hearts and homes to a child in need are nothing short of amazing. Without such acts of love, many more children would be left in foster care or institutional housing, in New Jersey and across the nation. In many cases, the road to adoption begins in foster care. That was the case for one family that is now faced with a difficult child custody battle over their adopted daughter.

The little girl was placed into their care shortly after her birth, when it became clear that her mother would be unable to provide for her needs. After a period of time, the foster parents adopted the girl with her biological mother's consent. Part of that adoption required the termination of the biological father's parental rights. The father was incarcerated at the time the adoption was granted.

Upon his release, the biological father appealed the adoption, claiming that he was not given the chance to defend his parental rights. The higher court agreed, and the adoption was overturned. Now, the biological father and the adoptive parents are embroiled in a child custody fight over who will have the right to raise the little girl. Both sides have compelling arguments, and a court will now have to determine what is in the child's best interests.

This is an example of a child custody case in which there will be no clear winner. The little girl has grown up in the care of her adoptive family and knows them as her parents. Also, the child's half sister has also been placed for adoption in the same home, and allowing her father to obtain custody would likely impact that relationship. As the case moves forward, it is certainly a cautionary tale for both biological parents and prospective adoptive parents in New Jersey and beyond.

Source: ABC News, "This 3-year-old is at the center of a custody battle between her adoptive parents and birth father", Candace Smith, March 3, 2017

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