This is a tough situation for you because there is no recent evidence of abuse or child endangerment for the court to deny him visitation. You can oppose reunification services because of how long he has been gone and because the child does not know him but these are hard cases. Most courts favor a child having two parents involved. You can fight it, but the court will want to see if reunification services will work first before they give up on the relationship. You should hire an certified family law specialist. This are hard cases and you should not attempt self representation.
There are some cases that neither side has a chance for sole custody. They could only terminate his parental rights it there were a guardianship or adoption.
This is not a comprehensive answer and it is impossible to provide a meaningful response without a consultation. Call us for more information. 619.797.5456 www.mataelelaw.com
Based on the facts given, if he has been completely out of the child's life and essentially abandoned her for more than 6 months to a year, you could be the Primary custodial parent. I would even argue for sole custody with visitation to him. He will probably get weekend and holiday visitation with her. Would be hard for him to get 50/50 right away. There would have to be a reunification period.
Maryam Atighechi is a family law, real estate and civil litigation attorney in Sherman Oaks, CA. 818-647-1152. Please be advised that although Ms. Atighechi is an attorney, the comments posted does not constitute legal advice. You should not rely on any advice or suggestions written and seek outside, independent counsel. An attorney-client relationship has not formed by reading the post.