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  1. #1

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    Need help getting neglectful father out of the picture

    I currently live in WA state with my boyfriend and my 6 year old son. My son's father lives in FL. This whole situation is a mess. My son's father owe's tons of back child support, can't keep a job, and when he's not working, his stepfather gives him work under the table. ::sigh:: I don't care about the child support anymore. While I was still living in Florida, I discovered just how neglected my son was being while spending time at his father's house over weekends and that sort of thing. The house was unbelievably FILTHY - you would not believe. Infested, little food in the house. My son would never come home with any of his clothes except the ones on his back and sometimes without socks and shoes. I finally convinced my ex's roommate (a good friend of mine as well) to let me in one day while my ex wasn't home so I could retrieve my son's clothes and I was in for quite a shock. My ex and my son shared a room there and not only was the place filthy but he'd left porn sitting out in plain view of our then three year old child! I'm sure you can understand my hesistation to ever let my child step foot in that house ever again. My ex's roommate made several valiant attempts to clean the place up so my son could visit with his father but it would never last and things would always end up a horrible, horrible mess and I can't stress enough how infested the whole place was. So... in addition to this bit of history, I'd like to add that we were never married, he did sign the birth certificate, we've never been to court to establish custody but he was ordered to pay me child support and is in constant violation of that order.

    After all the history and my ex becoming more and more of a hopeless alcoholic and less and less of a responsible, reliable individual, I don't want him to have anything to do with our child. My boyfriend and my father (whose health insurance plan my son spent his first four years on!) have been better male influences on my son and have been more involved than my son's father ever has or seems to care to be. He doesn't even call or write even though I have gone out of my way to make sure he has contact information for his son. He doesn't even answer my calls anymore - probably because of all the back child support he owes. My son started school this year and my ex didn't so much as cough up a box of crayons, for crying outloud.

    My ex's parents have not been very involved in my son's life but now that I'm in WA (I've been here for nearly a year and yes everyone was notified months before I moved here) - and only since Christmas, mind you - they suddenly want contact with their grandchild. My ex's stepmother is threatening to file for "grandparent's rights." I did some research and found that the Florida State Supreme Court overturned grandparents rights because they're a violation of the parents' constitutional rights. So that's some relief. I could give you a million reasons why my ex's parents would not be a good influence on my son, but this is already getting a bit long, so... moving on....

    So, what I'd like to know is how hard would it be to get my ex stripped of his parental rights given his past neglect and recent disintrest? If I were to succeed in this, what, if any, rights would his parents have? I wouldn't want them poking around to pass information on to someone that I don't feel should be involved in my son's life any longer. Also, at what age could a child aid in this decision? My son is only six but since we've moved to Washington, he's never asked to even talk to his father or his paternal grandparents - the only people he seems to miss at all are my parents whom he gets to talk to pretty regularly and has seen twice since we moved. I just want my son to have something resembling a normal life (which he has with my boyfriend and I, even though we haven't broken down and tied the knot yet) without this constant cloud of confusion hanging around and the echo of threats and arguing in the background. By the way, my father isn't my biological dad. He's actually my stepdad and he adopted me when I was four. I'm living proof that it doesn't matter who's playing daddy... just that they do it and do it well with a loving and generous heart.

  2. #2
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    Once you marry your boyfriend, then you can have him adopt and have dad's parental rights terminated but he must be willing to do this. If he is neglectful, you need to file a motion in court to limit visitation to supervised only and no overnights. If the house is a mess and there is no food, call CPS.

    Was paternity ever established by the father? if it wasn't, he has no rights anyways and you do not have to allow visitation.

  3. #3

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    Thank you so much for your reply!
    I'm not sure about the paternity. He signed the birth certificate. We never did any DNA test or anything but there's no question at all that he's the biological father and there never has been. What is required to establish paternity? Does that vary by state? How long would my boyfriend and I have to be married before we could possibly go through with this? Are there any other circumstances that would make it possible to have him stripped of his rights? Seems that a system that requires a parent to get married and have someone lined up to adopt their child before the other, unfit parent can lose their rights is a bit callous. If we live on opposite sides of the country, would child abondonment laws still apply if he never calls or writes and isn't paying child support? It just doesn't seem fair that a child should have to go through all this stress and confusion of supervised visits with a neglectful parent and his primary parent being stressed if the other parent has proven they care very little about their child at all. Right now there is no visitation since we're on opposite sides of the country. Should I still file to have him restricted to supervised visits and no overnights? Wouldn't that cause more problems if he then decides he wants to see his son just because he has a piece of paper that says he has a right to? If I don't start the visitation process, I highly, highly doubt he will. I'm certainly not going to pay to fly our son all over creation when he can't even pay childsupport. Ugh. What a mess!

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    Now that I think of it... I think there was some sort of small step of establishing paternity before the child support order could be done? Does that make sense? It wouldn't have been anything more than a form. Since CSE never informed me of my court date for my child support case, I have no idea what all happened there. Child Support Enforcement in FL is terrible.

  5. #5
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    It sounds like paternity has been established.

    Marry your boyfriend first, then after you have been married one year, generally, you can see an attorney about doing a termination of rights/adoption.

    If he does not pay support, and does not see the child for 2+ years, you can probably get rights terminated based on abandonment once you get married.

    You moved though correct? Honestly, you necessarily cannot move anywher you want, even if the father is a deadbeat. If it has been more than 6 months it is too late for him to dispute the move, but normally procedure is that you get his written permission to move, OR properly notify him via registered letter or court papers that you are moving. You living across the country does make visitation a little difficult, and yes you could be on the hook for helping out with transportation, if dad pusues this legally.

    The courts do not strip parental rights if you are not remarried because then, you could go on gov't assistance. Why should tax payers pay for the child because the father is a deadbeat and doesn't want to support him? That is why an adoption is required.

  6. #6

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    The sad truth is that an awful lot of people end up on government assistance anyway because the state governments don't have the resources to enforce the child support orders they make. My ex has gone 8, 9, 10 months at a time without paying child support and the state doesn't enforce the order. The FL CSE phone lines? Don't even work. 98% of the time you get a busy signal. ::sighs:: Anyway, I don't think that the government assistance thing is a good reason to require adoption. Just something I wanted to point out. Thank you for all your advice. Best of luck.

  7. #7
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    Both parents are required to support the child, not just the NCP.



    My comment on gov't assistance is not the only reason a marriage is required but the fact that an adoption of this nature is serious and cannot be overturned, so not just any guy can adopt. Being married seems like a small requirement for such a huge responsibility, that way women cannot just ask any old guy to adopt and dump their kids on just anyone. Not saying you are, but if you want him to play daddy legally and so that no more men in the future can play daddy to this child, you need to marry him.

    Unfortunately when you have a child with a deadbeat who does not want to support the child, it is the child that suffers.

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