PA family law, termination of absent parent's parental rights

Asked about 6 years ago - Harrisburg, PA

My ten year old son's father has not seen him since he was ten months old. We were never married but he signed the acknowledgement of paternity so his name is on my son's birth certificate. He has made no attempt to see him or even contact me to ask about his well being even though my address and phone number have not changed until recently. I do not and never have received child support from him, and I do not wish to. I am now married and would like to have his parental rights terminated. How do I go about doing this and can he fight it?

Additional information

What if I'm not remarried but the children's maternal grandmother lives with us and has acted as the second parent since the children were very young (they're now close to 9 & 11) -- do we need to have an adoption take place for termination of father's parental rights or can a father who hasn't seen children in 5+ years and shows no interest in them have his parental rights terminated and the alternate family unit (in my case: mother, grandmother, and children) be recognized legally?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jason Kutulakis

    Contributor Level 15

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    Answered . The adoption act provides for the methods in which a court may terminate a parents rights. There are generally 8 grounds with a best interests section. At the end of the day, the court will look to what is best for the child. You should consult with an attorney. If you cannot locate one, contact the Dauphin County Bar Association lawyer referral service located on Front Street.

  2. Susan J. Sacchetta

    Contributor Level 8

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    Answered . If your current husband is willing to adopt your son you will most likely succeed. A petition to terminate parental rights needs to be filed (along with an adoption petition) and you will need to get appropriate service on the father in order to proceed.

  3. Margery Ellen Golant

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . While he can fight it, it does sound like you would have sufficent basis for a termination of parental rights. This gets filed together with an adoption petition by your current husband, and assuming all is completed successfully, your husband becomes the legal father of your son, and the biological father ceases to have any legal connection with the child. The birth certificate is changed to reflect that.

    In order to do this, you need to have an attorney, it is hard to imagine any way you could navigate all of the issues on your own. The Dauphin County Bar Association no doubt has an attorney referral service, and can give you the names of attorneys who specialize in this sort of work.

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