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Adoption challenged in unique child custody case

When it comes to virtually any legal matter, jurisdiction is everything. This is especially true in family law matters, where the laws can vary from one state to another, and where there could be a clear advantage to having a case heard in Alabama versus a different jurisdiction. An example is found in a child custody case in which an adoption was challenged and eventually overturned.

The case centers on a little girl born to an unmarried couple. Shortly after her birth, the couple had paperwork drawn up to establish the man's paternity. However, within a year the mother decided to place the child for adoption. The father was notified and refused to give his consent.

The adoption was filed in a different state from that of the child's birth. The man filed a custody case in the child's birth state and also in the state where the adoption was taking place. That court asked for genetic testing, which revealed that the little girl was not the man's biological child. However, the first state had deemed him the legal father.

Eventually, the adoption was allowed to proceed, and the adoptive family took the little girl home to raise as their own. In appeals, however, the adoption was overturned. That decision was made partly based on the fact that another state had acknowledged that the man was the child's legal father, and that the court had erred in allowing the adoption to proceed despite the fact that there was a custody action in process in the other state.

This case could result in a happy ending for the child's legal father, but it will certainly be heartbreaking for the adoptive family. The story underscores the importance of taking quick and aggressive legal action in a child custody case. In this example, jurisdiction played a major role, and parents in Alabama and elsewhere who are facing a case where jurisdiction could be an issue should look at their options carefully before filing.

Source:, "Court reverses adoption of girl born in Ohio; father had fought mother's actions", June 25, 2016

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