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How can I get full custody of my daughter if her father is in jail? Can I change her last name?

Lowell, MA |

I have a nine month old daughter. Her father and I have not been together in months and now he is in prison for the next 7 to 10 years. I want full custody of her as soon as possible to avoid having to deal with it/ him when she is older. I called a lawyer and he told me that it was a waste of my money to do it now...but didn't really explain why except for something to do with him getting visitation when he gets out. I don't want him to have visitation, Im not asking him for any child support. I just want sole legal and physical custody and her last name to be the same as mine. What should I do?

Attorney Answers 4


In general, a court is much more likely to order you primary custody, with limited visitation rights to the other parent.

In order for you to get sole custody, you would have to demonstrate to the court that the father poses an imminent danger to the infant, and that it is not in the best interests of the child to see the parent.

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As a practical matter the lawyer is correct. But getting what you want is no bar for the father to ask for certain rights.

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There is a procedure for names changes in family court. In addition, if you remarry, you could seek to have your daughter adopted by the new husband, which would terminate the father's parental rights.

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You haven't stated whether you were ever married or whether there is any judgment or order already in place regarding custody, support, visitation or paternity. These factors can make a difference in whether you actually need to do anything or just wait for the father to try to claim his rights at some time in the future.

It sounds like you might want to sit face to face with another attorney if these things have not already been discussed. Good luck.

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