My daughter is 5 years old. Her biological father has not seen, or contacted me or her since Oct 2013 when she was 1 yo. He never filed for visitation. He is, however, paying child support by court order directly from his paychecks. My husband has been in my daughter’s life since Dec 2013 and we married Aug 2015. She calls him dad, and has never known any different. My husband and I have two other children- her siblings- with whom she is very close. My daughter suffers from health and mental issues and requires special care. My husband is very active in parenting her care. Things with her biological father ended badly, including threats on my life. He has a bad criminal record and has multiple DUI’s. He’s recently married and has petitioned the child support order to try to pay less than what he’s been paying. He has abandoned another child who is probably 15 years old now. If something happens to me, would my husband or my daughter’s biological father receive custody? We’ve considered having my husband adopt her, but financially we haven’t had the opportunity yet. Thanks for your time.
It would be up to the court to decide what's in the best interests of the child if more than one person files. The court would start with the presumption of the biological father. As far as the adoption, you would need the biological father's consent since he is paying child support (which is deemed as having a relationship with the child). But since he's trying to get that reduced, he may be willing to consent when he learns that it would go to zero after the adoption. You should consult with a local Family Law attorney. You will discover that a stepparent adoption isn't all that expensive and doesn't take very long.
Generally her biological father would be first in line. A parents rights are paramount absent a showing they are unfit. Arguments regarding your husband being a de facto parent and the bio dad’s lack of involvement would likely be made as part of the custody battle. Easy way to solve the matter is to have your husband adopt her. This will terminate his parental rights, and his need to pay child support. Then if you die, your husband gets custody as her legal father.
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