What Are My Rights to My Stepson, Who I Raised, Following the Death of His Mother, My Wife?

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“My wife had a son out of wedlock and was the custodial parent. The biological father agreed and a court order for child support was initiated, automatically deducting the child support from his retirement check. I have raised my step-son since day 1 and I love him like he is my biological child. He is now 14 years old. My wife passed away unexpectedly and I asked the biological parent to allow me and my wife’s mother co-guardianship, to which he agreed and it was ordered by the court. He in turn got a copy of my wife’s death certificate. He has since filed a petition in Indiana pursuant to Cod 31-16-6-6(3) to move the court to award him custody and terminate his obligation for child support. He stated the following reasons; that the custodial parent passed away, that he has the right of custody under the circumstances and requests that obligation for child-support be terminated. I have no problem with the termination of child support, but I do not want the court to think that my son is living with him or for this order to give him any more power to try and gain custody of my son. The father has never had Brandon stay over for visitation, has only contacted about once every year or two and knows nothing about him.

[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.]

My question is, would it hurt to allow this petition to go forward or would there be anything I could do to stop it?”

First, we are so sorry about your loss.

As to your question, you should immediately get an attorney – this is too serious to take any chances. Then, if it were me, and because it may be about the money, and you say that you don’t care about the money, I would have my attorney contact the biological father and offer to terminate child support if he withdraws his motion for custody. If, for some reason, he doesn’t agree, you will need to use an attorney who is very familiar with these situations, and also be sure to hire or have appointed a Guardian ad Litem (an attorney for your son) who can help guide the court to the right decision. Biological parents have an almost supreme right to their children, so fighting it will require experts who really know their stuff.

Good luck.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.