Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“I’m originally from NJ. My daughter’s biological father never signed her birth certificate and only saw her when she was 1 week old and then once more when she was 4 months old. He’s never paid any child support and I don’t know where he is currently living.
He hasn’t been seen or heard from, and my daughter is now 14 years old. We moved a year ago to AZ and my husband, who’s been her father since she was 3, would like to adopt her and become her father legally. I’m not sure how to go about this since we’ve moved and because her biological father never signed the birth certificate. He also hasn’t ever taken an interest in her, or paid a dime towards her care. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”
The Court will not typically terminate parental rights without consent of that parent, no matter how inactive that parent has been. Lack of a relationship or lack of child support payment does not give you standing to take away the father’s parental rights.
The one narrow exception to this general rule is that if the custody parent is remarrying, 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. Otherwise, absent *serious* concerns about the parent, the Court will allow the biological father to retain his rights.