“My wife has custody of her seven year old son. (We have been married for over six years) The ex-husband/father has not been around for over 2 years, and is approximately $10,000.00 behind in child support. The last payment that she received was over 2.5 years ago. My wife and I want to be able to give her son my last name, and I want to adopt him. He already uses my last name everywhere that he can. I have been responsible for his healthcare and well-being since he was born basically. We have heard several stories about running newspaper ads, getting lawyers, etc?.but we have yet to act on it. I want to adopt her son, and give him our last name. The concern is where the ex-husband?s family comes in. We do not want to make the wrong move and have this be emotionally hard on the child. The mother of the ex-husband is financially able to pay the child support (in turn he would have to ?bring her grandson to her?, only for the reason of hurting my wife. We are worried in large part that the mother will step in and ?pay up, which neither of us want to have happen. So we have yet to make any moves. Instead, we have let the years go by; increasing his time period for abandonment.
He writes a news column for his business, and has made references to his daughter (second marriage) in this column, but has always left out the son. His behavior suggests that he does not acknowledge the son at all. My wife wants to have his parental rights terminated, so that I can legally adopt him.
Any advice, knowledge, or anything you could say would be appreci ated.”
Alabama Code Section 26-18-7, Grounds for termination of parental rights; factors considered; presumption arising from abandonment, describes factors to be considered as abandonement for the purpose of terminating parental rights. Non-payment of support and failing to maintain regular visits are two factors that the Court considers and your facts mention.
He’s going to get notice of the hearing, and the name change request. He may even fight it. You and your Wife are the ones who need to decide if it’s worth it to change the status of the relationship between her son and you.
The past due child support will not ever go away. It is owed to the boy. That Grandma may step in after the papers are filed to bring support to current will ultimately probably not change the outcome of the case. Don’t tell them that.
Every time a child’s rights go on the line, that child may be put in harm’s way. There is no way I know of to guarantee that he will be insulated from the Court’s proceedings. Just make sure that you are absolutely committed to seeing this to the end, and that you are willing to accept the results either way before filing anything. Also, a consult with a local attorney would be a good idea.