I have a daughter who is 10 years old and she has not had any contact with her biological father within the past 4 years. We have a custody agreement from 2009 in the state of Pennsylvania where she was born before I moved to Georgia 6 years ago but he has never once followed the order. We also have a child support order that he doesn't pay regularly but only when the court forces him to pay or go to jail. My daughter does not have a relationship with him at all. I have asked him many times in the past to come see her and he always stated that he did not have the money . I am married and my daughter calls her stepfather dad and that is who she is comfortable with. My husband pays her health insurance, goes to the daddy daughter dances at her school, takes her to the movies and dinner and all the things a father should do. I have asked her on several occasions if she wanted to be in his life and she stated that she does not know him and that she prefers to have her stepdad as her dad. I am willing to drop the support just to be able to move on without him in her life. Is there anything that I can do because he will not surrender his rights just to be able to hold that over my head.
There is a saying "let sleeping dogs lie." It is probably hugely foolish to file a custody case. He hasn't visited in 4 years, soyou already have in practice what you seek. Filing simply may awaken the sleepingdog where he starts visitation. And in any event, since the right to support belongs to the child, it is almost certain a court will not eliminate that(not only do you sometimes get support, but the arrearage never disappears and even can be collected from his estate if he dies). Assuming he's legitimated the child, if he ever goes a year without paying or visiting, that opens the door for stepparent adoption by yourhusband, and that would be the one situation where his rights might be severed.
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Mr. Ashman is correct but I wanted to add that since the custody order was entered in PA and it seems that the father may still live there. If this is so, you will likely be required to go back to PA for any custody modifications, or at a minimum get a PA court to relinquish jurisdiction to GA.
Additionally, the process for a step parent adoption is different for legal fathers versus simply biological fathers. Mr. Ashman mentions legitmation as a factor to the adoption process but since the custody order was out of PA, it will need to be determined if the biological father is the legal father under PA law already.
As Mr. Ashman stated, you would likely be best off letting sleeping dogs lie, but if you want to do anything you may wish to consult with an attorney regarding the possibility of a step-parent adoption (if your husband is willing). The attorney would need to review all the facts and court orders to properly give you advise. If a step parent adoption is granted, then your daughter becomes the daughter of your husband as well as if she was born during your marriage, the biological father has no rights and no obligation to pay child support (except any amount in arrears still remains due). Good luck.
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You can get sole custody. You can also offer termination of parental rights in lieu of paying child support. Set a free consultation to discuss
If he fails to support your child for a year or more, and fails to visit her over the same period, you can have your husband file a petition for a stepparent adoption. The father must be served with notice of the proceedings in PA, and he could file an objection. Then it would be up to the court to either grant the petition, or deny the adoption. If the adoption is granted, the father's parental rights would be terminated. Go see a local family law attorney to discuss these issues further.
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