How can I terminate parental child custody rights? 17 Answers as of May 12, 2011

I have two sons, ages 7 and 5. My 7 year old is special needs. They have been raised by my boyfriend of 5 years. Although I gained sole custody of them in our divorce, I am constantly worried that my ex-husband will fight for custody of them if anything were to happen to me. My ex-husband has had no contact with my sons in almost three years, has never paid child support, has no interest in them since finding out that our older son is special needs, and is also a convicted felon on parole. I have a will granting guardianship of the boys to my boyfriend, but is this enough? Should I, and can I, seek to terminate my ex-husbands rights to protect the well being of my children should anything happen to me? As there is a great deal of money that would come along with my sons I fear that he would seek custody of them, to the detriment of everything I have accomplished with my older son and ruin any chances he has of a normal life. My boyfriend has raised them, participated in everything I have done for my special needs son and is known to all of his doctors and schools. How do I ensure that he receives custody of them so that he could continue the support of my son as I would?

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Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
You must file an action seeking to terminate parental rights. One of the factors a court would consider for a termination of parental rights is abandonment where the parent has failed to see the children or to provide them financially for over one year.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 5/12/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
You could petition to terminate the parental rights of the father. However, I am not certain that your boyfriend would end up with custody just because you request it in your will. A sure way would be to allow him to adopt, but unless you are married, I don't see how that would work because I think you would have your rights terminated as a matter of law by allowing them to be adopted by someone other than your spouse. You could set up a trust, via your will, with the boyfriend as the trustee and the children as beneficiaries. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/12/2011
Rice & Co., LPA
Rice & Co., LPA | Kollin Rice
There are only two common ways of terminating all parental rights in the state of Ohio - permanent custody being granted to the state and adoption. It is quite common for stepparents to adopt children, which does not impact the parental rights of the parent married to the stepparent. If the father has had not contact with and paid no support for the children in over a year, his consent would not be required. However, you would have to be married in order for a stepparent adoption to proceed. Further, even if you did not have your current boyfriend adopt the kids, being a stepparent as opposed to a live-in boyfriend would improve his chances of obtaining custody if something were to happen to you. On the other hand, marriage may have negative consequences from a public assistance standpoint. You will have to consider your options carefully and should probably discuss them with an attorney before making any drastic moves.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/12/2011
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
Hire a family law adoption attorney to see if your boyfriend can adopt.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/11/2011
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
Unless you marry your boyfriend and he successfully adopts the children by obtaining a termination of the father's rights in accordance with stepparent adoption law, there is little you can do to guarantee that your ex-husband won't be able to seek custody of the children in the event of your death. You can make a will or other written document to designate your boyfriend, or someone else, as your nominee to be the children's guardian and that will have first priority against everyone but the father. If the father seeks to regain custody, a court will have to balance the best interest of the children against the father's rights as a parent. The facts you describe would suggest that father's arguments, if he pursues custody, would not be strong in his favor, but the Court will have to carefully evaluate the whole situation.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 5/11/2011
    Fox Law Firm LLC
    Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
    It sounds like you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you have a legally binding Will, not something that you have written yourself and placed in safekeeping because if it does not meet the legal standards your wishes may not matter, then and only then will your ex-husband be contacted as an option to raising your children. If you had your Will drafted an attorney, you should be fine.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Unless you terminate the parental rights your ex will have legal claim. But your boyfriend could move for visitation orders if something happened to you.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC | Lori C. Obenauf
    You and your boyfriend need to get married. Then your boyfriend can file a petition to adopt your son as a step-parent adoption. In that process, you will seek to have the father's parental rights terminated first, then proceed with the adoption phase. That way, you can ensure that your husband maintain custody of your children in the event something happens to you.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    I have handled similar situations. Give me a call, make an appointment to come see me, and let's get moving on this for you. No charge for the first office visit. I know people worry about how expensive a lawyer is, so I am careful to be as inexpensive as I can for my clients. Before you spend a dime, you will know how much this is likely to be.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    If your boyfriend adopts your children, part of the process will involve terminating their father's parental rights. Other than that, it is unlikely that you would be able to terminate his parental rights.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    At least in Washington, you would probably have to have your boyfriend adopt the children to terminate the father's rights. For him to be able to adopt, he would probably need to have been married to you for at least a year.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc
    Noah A. Bradow, Attorney & Counselor, pllc | Noah A. Bradow
    In Michigan, a parent cannot directly seek to terminate the rights of another parent. This process is generally handled through the Department of Human Services (DHS), but in limited circumstances other parties may file a petition to terminate parental rights if the child is remains in foster care or in a guardianship. If you want to get the rights of the father terminated, you should contact DHS in your county and report to them the father has deserted the children and ask them to file a petition for termination. OR, there is also a process for terminating the parental rights of the father for purposes of adoption.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Hale Law Group
    Hale Law Group | Joshua D. Hale
    You would have to seek to terminate his rights through court. It is not often a court would do that, but under some circumstances, including something like what you are describing, the court might be inclined to terminate his rights. Please give me a call at your convenience, and we can discuss getting this started.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    In Washington State, and if your boyfriend is willing, you should consider adoption. If granted, the biological father's rights would be forever terminated.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    See an adoption attorney if your boyfriend is willing to adopt;otherwise, I don't believe it can be done.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/10/2011
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