I am in the process of getting a divorce. I have had sole legal and physical custody of my 9 year old daughter since 2005 without any child support. Her father, my estranged husband has been living in Arizona since '04 with very little to no contact withher in the past 2 years. She does not want contact with him. Is there a way I can terminate his rights and have my fiance adopt her once we are married? He loves her like his own and she calls him "daddy" already.
estranged husband has no visitation and has no means to even travel to NJ, let alone live here.
That's a tricky question. As you probably know, you can do a number of things to strengthen your right to custody of your daughter. To terminate parental rights, however, the court would have to hold a formal hearing in which it concluded that continued contact with the child's biological father would no longer serve the child's best interest. This is often a difficult burden of proof, even in cases where the father is estranged. You would also need to establish that the biological father consents to the adoption of the child by your fiance, and the court would have to grant the adoption on its own merits. Perhaps you have the right set of facts to meet this burden of proof.
You should have an attorney evaluate all of the facts and circumstances. If we can assist you in this regard, please do not hesitate to call. We have offices in Red Bank and Freehold. If you feel this answer was helpful, please click on the thumbs-up symbol below.
Mark S. Guralnick
To add to attorney Gualranick's answer I would also add that if your fiance was to file an affidavit that he was willing to adopt the child and support the child that would help your application. Also, for some judges it is better to make the application when you are married instead of engaged for the simple reason that courts prefer a more stabe relationship when considering the best interests of the child.
On my profile there are several legal guides. I recommend reviewing the following which may be helpful to you:
Hiring a lawyer helpful; Is it Legal? Is it Illegal?
Understanding the different court systems;
A guide to legal terms used in litigation…………………………………l.
Divorce in General and How It's Handled in New Jersey
Financial Dos and Don'ts after a Divorce (written by Attorney Gabriel Cheong)
Parental Alienation Syndrome: An Introduction; Parental Alienation: in Family Law Litigation;
Mr. Sarno is licensed to practice law in NJ and NY. His response here is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. Many times the questioner may leave out details which would make the reply unsuitable. Mr. Sarno strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their own state to acquire more information about this issue.