How does a mother get sole legal custody of her child? - Child Custody Law Questions and Answers- LawQA.com

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How does a mother get sole legal custody of her child?

I have a son who recently turned 1. Although his father was at the hospital to reluctantly sign the birth certificate, that's about it. I saw him again at mediation where I got residential custody, but he never came for his weekly visit and we haven't seen him since. We actually don't even know his phone number or address anymore. Is it true that a court can determine that a child's been "abandoned" if a parent attempts no contact whatsoever, and strip the absent parent of all rights? If so how long does the parent have to go without contacting the child before it's considered abandonment? Also, I know he can't sign away his rights unless another male "adopts" my son. My sons uncle has often asked me if he could do this. Can another family member take "father" rights for my son, even if it's obviously not a spouse or partner (my brother and I own a house together, so he has been my sons only "father figure" from day 1). My son’s father in the past year has become a jobless drug addict who has zero interest in ever being a father. He pays the state minimum in child support. P.S. he is from Scotland and is currently not even an American citizen although he's been living here for 5 years. Any way I could get 100% parental rights for my son would be great. "Parental abandonment" or "non-spouse adoption"? How should I pursue this?

Law Office of Joseph M. Rameaka
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A court will award sole legal custody to a parent if the court determines it is in the best interest of that child. The court will certainly look at the relationship (or lack there of) between each parent and child. If you have been the sole caregiver and the father has had no interaction with the child there is a strong case for sole custody. There does not have to be another male figure to step in for the absent father. You would need to file a motion for sole custody with the court. You would do well to contact an attorney to help you with this process.

Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 11/28/2012


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Is there an existing custody order? Does it include parenting time for the father? Does it provide for joint legal custody? To modify that to sole custody if he is not available to assist in decision making, etc., may be doable based upon his disinterest in the child. If he has not exercised his parenting time, to seek to terminate it based the child's best interests in being exposed to a stranger, despite the biological connection. As for adoption, the Courts are looking for a household adoption, i.e., with a significant other not an aunt or uncle.

Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 11/26/2012

Answer By Abel Fernandez
Diefer Law Group, P.C.
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You can file a motion to terminate a parent's rights. Now, these can be hard to get in some counties. I have done these and have been told by judges that their county does not grant them, and I have had them granted in other counties. So, if you believe that the other parent has abandoned the child and it has been a long time (no less than a year) you could file the motion.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/26/2012

Answer By John Kirchner
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
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If you never married and there has never been any court order establishing parental rights for the father, you already have "sole legal custody" and don't need to do anything.

Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 11/26/2012

Answer By Eric S. Ludwig

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Please review Family Code section 7822 which provides that if one parent has not visited with the minor child for one year or has not paid child support for one year, the Court can determine that parent has abandoned the minor child and strip that parent of his/her custodial rights. This is a complicated process, but having handled these matters before, I have personal knowledge of the Court's power to terminate parental rights pursuant to this statute.

Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/26/2012

R. Jason de Groot, P.A
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It is not true that he abandoned the child or that you can get the father's rights stripped.

Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 11/26/2012

The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
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This is a messy situation, and takes a bit of planning to deal with. You may end up applying to the Court to allow adoption by another man, taking the legal rights from the worthless father. My answer applies only if you live in New Jersey. You need a lawyer to sit down with you and give you some advice.

Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 11/26/2012

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