Does My Son’s Father Have Visitation Rights if He Disappeared for Three Years After Our Son Was Born?

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“My son’s father and I were never married. He left the state two months prior to my son being born; returned for the birth; then left again 10 days later. He has returned to this state approximately 4 times for a total of roughly 8 days since my son’s birth. My son is now 3.5 years old. The father does not call, write, or send gifts, and his wages are garnished to pay the minimum required support amount each month. He was required to pay for medical insurance, began it, and then allowed it to lapse without notifying anyone. He will not return my phone calls or emails when I attempt to contact him (i.e., for the insurance issue).

[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.]

The father came into town last month and called me without notice, asking to take my son 200 miles away for 3 days to visit his family. This is the first visit he’s attempted in over a year. I refused to allow it. He puffed his chest at me about visitation rights; I explained to him that he had none. He signed an Affidavit of Paternity upon my son’s birth, but was never awarded any custody or visitation. I am the sole custodial parent. My son does not even know who he is, and I do not know his family members, so I do not feel it is appropriate to send my child off to I-don’t-know-where. I personally do not care if he’s a part of my child’s life or not, he never has been. One day out of one year does not equal fatherhood. I allowed the father to visit one evening for a few hours, and the following day for a few more in town.

My question is this: If he were to attempt to go to court and try for visitation, what would the likelihood be of the court granting anything? Would I seriously be required to send my 3.5-year-old 2,000 miles away to stay with people we do not know?”

The Court will look to the best interests of a child when determining a custody and visitaiton order. Continuing and frequent contact with both parents is generally regarded as in a child’s best interests. But absent some agreement, it would be baby steps. A couple of hours at first, gradually increasing over time. So while you probably would not have to allow your son to go on 2000 mile out of state trips right away, that may be something your baby daddy could achieve over time after some years of image rehabilitation.

The onus is on him to file to get a visitaiton order. The Court would look to the status quo (what’s currently going on) to fashion its first orders. I encourage you to think long term with your son’s best interests at heart.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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