Editor's Note: In anticipation of the new Star Wars movie, we thought it might be fun to use the movie franchise as a metaphor for common legal issues. May the Force Be With You!
I understand you are trying to find out if the adoption of Luke and Leia was legal. Adoption is a court procedure allowing someone to become legally recognized as the parent of a child who isn’t biologically related to him. Since you returned to Jedi ideals, I’ll call you Mr. Skywalker. Before I answer your questions, I’d like you to keep in mind one the adoption cases of Chris Emanuel. Unfortunately, the news isn’t good for you.
Question 1: What Could Obi-Wan Have Done to Obtain custody Over Baby Luke After You Went Homicidal Cyborg?
After Padme’s death, Obi-Wan had a decision to make on Tantive IV. He could have informed you Luke and Leia were alive. Keep in mind that probably wasn’t an option since you were with Emperor Palpatine. You’d already committed mass murder by then. He could have gone to court to obtain guardianship of the twins.
Legal guardianship is established by the court and allows an individual to watch over the minor and protect them. Obi-Wan would have acted as a parent to the twins providing shelter, food, and care. The twins would have been “wards” of the court. The term refers to the fact the parents of the minor wasn’t capable of taking care of him or her. There are several types of legal guardianship including:
- Temporary guardianship
- Adult guardianship
- Emergency guardianship
Regardless of the type of guardianship Obi-Wan chose, you would still retain your parental rights. Also, anyone can be a legal guardian as long as they have the ability to take care of the child’s needs such as education, food, shelter, and medical care. Would Obi-Wan be granted legal guardianship? Well, that decision would be left up to the family court. The court only considers what’s in the best interest of the child.
Question 2: If Obi-Wan and Senator Organa Had Gone Through Legal Adoption Channels, Would the Judge Have Agreed to Split Up Luke and Leia?
This is a good question. I’ll reserve the huge complication with Obi-Wan and Senator Organa going through legal channels to adopt Luke and Leia for later. For now, I’ll focus on the latter part of the question.
Separating siblings to adopt them out is not a common practice except if it would be in the child's best interest. A judge could have split Luke and Leia up if he felt it was in their best interest to do so. The judge may have thought Leia going to Alderaan to live with Bail and Queen Organa was better than living with Owen and Beru. The judge may have thought Beru and Owen were better parents for Luke than his sister. However, this case was still unusual because there was little evidence to suggest Luke would have done worse with the Organas or that Leia would have done worse living with her Aunt and Uncle. The only explanation is that the twins had to be separated to keep them away from their violent and murderous father.
I’ve mentioned the term “what’s in the interest of the child” quite a few times. It’s important to explain it completely. The term usually critical in child custody, visitation, and guardianship. It’s also used in adoption. It basically means, when making decisions about a child, he or she is the sole focus. The judge doesn’t consider parents’ desires, wants, or needs pertaining to where the child lives.
Since the twins were infants at the time Obi-Wan and Senator Organa would have adopted them, the court would have the following to determine best interest:
- Child’s background
- Environmental considerations like community safety and schools
- Health and maturity of each adoptive parent
- Each adoptive parent’s ability to provide emotional and financial support for the infants
- Social background and lifestyle of each parent
Again, the judge could have split Luke and Leia to allow them to be raised by different families. Now, I’d like to focus on the legal adoption aspect of the question. Unfortunately, a big myth in adoption cases involve father’s rights. Many believe birthfathers don’t have the right to know about their children going up for adoption. They also have the right to contest the adoption.
It is a risk for birthmothers and adoptive parents to continue with the adoption if the adoptive father can’t be located or informed about the birth. In some jurisdictions, if the father’s whereabouts are unknown, some sort of legal notice must appear in the newspaper.
That’s what happened in the Emanuel case. His daughter was returned to him after he found out she was adopted by couple. He wasn’t told she was being placed for adoption.
Question 3: Could You Obtain Custody Over Your Children?
Child custody involves having physical and/ or legal custody over a child. If you did have to go to court to talk custody of Luke and Leia, you will have an uphill battle. The court will look at what’s in the best interest of the twins to determine if you were fit to have retain custody. The court will also consider each parent’s background and ability to provide children with a safe, stable environment.
Barriers Preventing Fathers Behaving Badly from Obtaining Custody or Stopping an Adoption
Unfortunately for you Mr. Skywalker you probably wouldn’t have a chance of invalidating the adoption or getting custody. You could return to the Force, but the judge will take into account your past. Let’s just discuss some domestic violence and family abuse events the judge will consider:
- You joined the Dark Side
- Committed mass murder after your mom’s death
- You choked your wife, Padme, in a fit of rage
- You fought your son, Luke, cutting off his hand
- You revealed you were Luke’s father in a very traumatic way
- You kidnapped and tortured your daughter Leia
- Tried to force Luke to join the Dark Side
These are all serious events and will negatively affect your rights to invalidate the adoption or gain custody of them. Yes, I do understand. When Luke was withering in agony from Emperor’s torture, you did turn against your master. You saved Luke by throwing the Emperor into the core of Death Star. That one thing wouldn’t be enough to overcome numerous things you’ve done to harm the ones you loved.
Mr. Skywalker, I hope I’ve answered your questions regarding the adoption of Luke and Leia. Good luck and may the Force be with you.
Taelonnda Sewell, LegalMatch Legal Writer