Can I Terminate My Child’s Father’s Parental Rights and Change Their Last Name?

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Question: I live in Missouri and I have a child that is over a 1 year old. The biological father and I were never married and he has never paid child support and I don’t want any from him. Can I change the child’s last name to mine and can I terminate his parental rights? He did sign a statement indicating he is the father. I would like to know what my options are. Thank you and hopefully you can answer my questions.

Answer: Generally the courts do not terminate parental rights unless there are serious problems with that parent’s ability to parent, no matter their level of involvement. The only exception to this general rule is that if the custodial parent is remarrying, and the new spouse wishes to adopt the child, AND if the biological parent agrees to the adoption, then the court may terminate the biological parent’s rights to allow the adoption to move forward. But short of that scenario, you would almost certainly find it impossible to terminate his rights.