We were never married. His name is not listed on the birth certificate, but we do have an open child support case. He never sees my daughter and rarely pays child support. I would rather just terminate all of his rights so I don't have to deal with him at all, since he has made it clear that our daughter means nothing to him. How can I do this?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
In Pennsylvania, the methods for terminating parental rights are two-fold. First, he could voluntarily terminate his rights by signing a document saying the same, and you could present that to the court with your petition to terminate his rights. The second way is to involuntarily terminate his rights by your petition requesting same - you then would use all your evidence you described in your question for the reasons why he should not be the father.
In Pennsylvania, the court would generally not terminate a father's rights to a child unless there was another father to step into his place, so this would be a stumbling block for you. I suggest you contact a family law attorney in the county where you reside in order to get the answers you need. You should act quickly while he is stating that he has no interest in the child and is not paying child support. Over time, his actions may change, and this might make it more difficult to terminate his rights.
The answer we have provided to you question does not establish an attorney client relationship between myself, Connie J. Merwine or our Firm MHK Attorneys. To get a full and complete answer to your question you should personally consult with a lawyer.
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Family Law Attorney
In Georgia, it is well established that terminating parental rights in a private action should only be in connection with an adoption (like a step-parent adoption), which would be filed in Superior Court. One of the main reasons is that often, a surrender of rights is used as a way to get out of paying child support, which is against public policy.
The Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) has the ability to petition for a termination of parental rights without a pending adoption, but only in Juvenile Court, and only if there is a current deprivation action involving the child.
If the only thing connecting him to the child is an open child support case, then he has not even been declared the legal father. He is only the biological father through the establishment of paternity (for the purposes of child support). If he is not the legal father, he has no rights to custody, visitation, or access to any records involving the child. In effect, all he has the right to do is pay child support and if he doesn't, he could go to jail.
Since he pays through the child support recovery, you really don't have to have anything to do with him anyway if that's the way he wants it.
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Child Abuse Lawyer
How financially capable is he? Would he be willing/able to pay a lump sum child support amount in exchange for some "consideration" on your end - i.e. providing him with the proper documents to Surrender his rights? Truthfully, one cannot sign away the obligation to pay child support through a Surrender, but he may not know that. The right to child support is held by the child alone.
Otherwise, the other attorneys are correct. Without an open Juvenile Court case alleging abuse or neglect by the primary guardian, the only way to terminate his parental rights is to file a Petition for Adoption on behalf of a person who is willing to take his place as parent. Best of luck to you and your child.
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