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What Happens to Foster Children in Divorce?

Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Advocate for Divorcing Couples With Adoption or Foster Care Issues

Being foster parents with your partner is a rewarding experience as you help raise and care for a child in need. Unfortunately, life outside the fostering experience happens, and a foster couple may want to file for a divorce.

Fostering rules are generally similar in every state. In many fostering scenarios, when a “significant change” occurs within the family, the fostering agency must reevaluate the situation. This “significant change” can be in many different situations, such as a loss of a job, a job relocation, or a death in the family. Divorce of the foster parents is certainly a significant change.

The social worker will then decide if the child’s placement should continue. Furthermore:

  • If the parents divorce, the foster child may be removed from the home. This is because foster care is designed to provide a child in need with proper care and stability in a structured environment.
  • Should the home situation become unstable, as in a divorce, the social worker may place the child elsewhere.
  • Divorce does not always mean the foster child is removed. In some cases, the stress inside the home may be limited. For instance, one parent may have already moved out of the house because of the divorce.
  • If one parent wants to remain a foster parent, they will be reassessed. The remaining foster parent must have the means to support the foster child.
  • Ultimately, it is up to the social worker and their assessment of the situation whether or not the foster child stays with the divorced couple.

After the social worker completes their assessment of the current living situation, they will present this report to the Fostering Panel, who will then hold a meeting on whether or not the child will remain in the divorcing parents’ care. If the review finds that one of the parents is fit to continue care, then the parent who has left will likely be asked to offer their resignation. However, this parent can also be assessed to be a foster parent should they wish. After the divorce, there will be regular reviews by the social worker to make sure the foster carer left has enough support.

The Difference Between Adoption and Foster Care

Fostering a child is different than adopting. In adoption, you become the child’s legal parent, a permanent arrangement. You are not the legal parent when you are fostering a child; foster care is temporary and provides safety for the child if they cannot be with their birth parents.

If the child can return to their birth parents, then the foster parents cannot interfere with their reunification. However, if the child cannot be with their birth parents, the foster parents have the right to adopt if they choose and pending court approval.

In a divorce, the remaining foster parent cannot seek child support from their ex-spouse as they would in an adopted-child situation. Only after the adoption is legally official would the child be treated similarly to a natural-born child. The social worker may also decide that the lone foster parent can still support the child, so this parent may not need child support.

Baltimore County Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Advocate for Divorcing Couples With Adoption or Foster Care Issues

If you are seeking a divorce and have foster or adopted children, speak with our Baltimore County divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Call us today at 443-589-0150 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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