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My ex-wife after 14 yrs absent now wants full legal custody of our 14 yrs son. What are my options?

New York, NY |

I married my ex-wife about 16 yrs ago. She is from another country and married in her country. After month of our first child born she migrated to the USA illegally & a year later was able to illegally bring our child to the USA. When she arrived here she was pregnant by another man & had and abortion in the states. I made the decision to divorce her in her native country for abandoning the marriage. Then while in the states she disappeared with our son while both had entered illegally into the states. She entered into another relationship with another man and had a baby with that man. My child grew up believing this other man is his father. Now she is threatening me to take me to child support court if I do not do as she says and give her full custody of our child. What are may opts?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

You do likely owe child support, but you don't have to do as she says. She can't have it both ways, have you pay and decide whether you can see your own child or not. I would probably petition for custody in consultation with a Family Law attorney.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for the advice.

Posted

You should immediately file a petition for visitation and custody. You will have to explain why you have not done this prior. You may need to demonstrate what efforts you made to locate your child. You have a right to a relationship with your son and should now work towards this. Given the circumstances it may be a long road and you may meet resistance from your child. But to not try would be more detrimental. Consult local counsel.

The above answer does not constitute an attorney client relationship and/ or retention of counsel. This answer is based upon the facts presented and may change if additional information is provided. The rules of the Bar for New York State may require me to advise that this could be construed as attorney advertisement.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your reply. To be honest I was not even sure I was the father since my ex-wife has had 3 kids from 3 different fathers. I am very happy to finally meet my son. I was not able to locate my ex-wife 14yrs ago since she was an illegal alien in this country and she moved around a lot impossible to locate her. On the other hand I had maintain the same residence and have not moved. She as already set a court date for full legal custody of the child in 2 weeks from today. She claims she needs it to travel with the child abroad. I am willing to help if it will benefit the child my most concern is my son well being. I asked because I want to be sure I am making the right decision in granting her full custody.

Virginia Giselle Alvarez

Virginia Giselle Alvarez

Posted

Sir with all due respect she has kept your child from you and has alienated him from you. Can you consider this what is best for the child? That being said his age as well as your inaction will work against you. I do not think you should agree to anything until you sit down and consider all your options. You've lost a lot of time in his life already.

Asker

Posted

I see your point it is the reason I asked to see what my options would be in this case. It is true what you say and I would prefer to do what is best for the child considering the emotional stress that may cause him to know that his stepfather is not really his biological father. My best bet for now is to sit with a lawyer and see my options. Thanks again.

Posted

If she has held another man out as your child's father, you likely have a strong argument under a doctrine called "estoppel" to prevent her from collecting child support from you. However, if you want visitation and parental rights with your child, you must go to court to seek those rights and would then also be expected to pay child support.

Asker

Posted

Her relation with the other man whom she had a daughter now for 12 yrs terminated. 14yrs later she shows up to my door asking me to sign full custody of our son who has never met me. Further she asked me to give her money which I think is very strange considering she deprive me of having a relation with my son since he was born. I see that I should best consult a lawyer about this. It looks to me that she is trying to replace the money she lost from her previous relation by bringing me in to fill the void. In my opinion I do not believe this is fair use of the laws and for someone to bend the laws as they see fit. She constantly keeps motioning that she can get child support if she wants to but will rather work it out between us and not get the courts involved. It is my reason to seek advice here to decide my next step. Thank you for your advice.

Susan Kathleen Duke

Susan Kathleen Duke

Posted

Yes, definitely go see an attorney and explore your options.

Posted

I also agree that estoppel may apply here if another man has held the child out as his own. However, if your ex files for support and her paramour signs an affidavit of no access, the Court can in fact order you to submit to a paternity test. Nevertheless, you should file a petition for visitation if you want to establish a relationship with the child. Unfortunately, it would be quite a feat to beat her in a support proceeding and wind up with a parenting schedule at the same time.

The opinion herein does not constitute legal representation in any way or establish an attorney-client relatioship.

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