Can a Mother Simply Terminate a Father’s Rights to His Child Just Because?

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‘My husband had a son when he was 18 and he was really scared that he wouldn’t be able to provide for the child. At the time, he was living with his drug addict parents so he moved out of state to live with his grandparents. He stayed in contact with the mom and has gotten updates and pictures and sent birthday and Christmas gifts over the years but she never asked or pursued any kind of child support. When the boy was young his mom got married and has told the boy that her husband is the dad. My husband kept being told that at some point when the time was right she would tell the kid the truth and so he waited, figuring that when she did that then he’d be able to have joint custody. Now he is 12 years old and the mom is sounding like she is not going to tell the boy and has started saying that my husband and his family have no right to see him. This is killing my husband, not having his son in his life. This has gone on way too long and far longer than he had ever expected. My husband is listed on the birth certificate. The mom moved to California with the child but my husband lives in Washington and the child was born in Washington. What are our options and what would be the consequences of any action we take?’

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

For your husband to assert his parental rights, he will need to contact a family law attorney in California (assuming his son has lived there for a substantial period of time) and ask the court to adjudicate his paternity, and for a parenting plan. You do need to know that this
could be involved (and costly), and in addition your husband may be required to pay child support.
But he is to be applauded for wanting his son to know his real father, and you for supporting him
in this endeavor.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.