What Does It Take To Terminate Parental Rights?

Alabama has a two-step process that any court must conduct before terminatirg any person’s parental rights. The case of P.H. v. Madison County DHR, Case No. 2040483, 2040490 (Ala. Civ. App. February 17, 2006) is a good illustration of how the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals thinks the process should work, because it examined the cases of both parents. It found that termination of parental rights was appropriate for one parent and not for the other.

As blog readers already know, Alabama has a two-pronged test for terminating parental rights. The court must first determine that valid grounds exist for terminating parental rights, including (but apparently not limited to) those set forth in Ala. Code §26-18-7. If the answer is yes, the court must then inquire whether all viable alternatives to termination have been considered.

Here’s the relevant text of §26-18-7:

§ 26-18-7. Termination of parental rights

(a) If the court finds from clear and convincing evidence, competent, material and relevant in nature, that the parents of a child are unable or unwilling to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child, or that the conduct or condition of the parents is such as to render them unable to properly care for the child and that such conduct or condition is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, it may terminate the parental rights of the parents. In determining whether or not the parents are unable or unwilling to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child, the court shall consider, and in cases of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights may consider, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) That the parents have abandoned the child, provided that in such cases, proof shall not be required of reasonable efforts to prevent removal or reunite the child with the parents.

(2) Emotional illness, mental illness or mental deficiency of the parent, or excessive use of alcohol or controlled substances, of such duration or nature as to render the parent unable to care for needs of the child.

(3) That the parent has tortured, abused, cruelly beaten or otherwise maltreated the child, or attempted to torture, abuse, cruelly beat, or otherwise maltreat the child, or the child is in clear and present danger of being thus tortured, abused, cruelly beaten, or otherwise maltreated as evidenced by such treatment of a sibling.

(4) Conviction of and imprisonment for a felony.

(5) Unexplained serious physical injury to the child under such circumstances as would indicate that such injuries resulted from the intentional conduct or willful neglect of the parent.

(6) That reasonable efforts by the Department of Human Resources or licensed public or private child care agencies leading toward the rehabilitation of the parents have failed.

(7) That the parent has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of any of the following:

a. Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of that parent.

b. Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of that parent.

c. A felony assault or abuse which results in serious bodily injury to the surviving child or another child of that parent. The term “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which involves substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

(8) That parental rights to a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated.

(b) Where a child is not in the physical custody of its parent or parents appointed by the court, the court, in addition to the foregoing, shall also consider, but is not limited to the following:

(1) Failure by the parents to provide for the material needs of the child or to pay a reasonable portion of its support, where the parent is able to do so.

(2) Failure by the parents to maintain regular visits with the child in accordance with a plan devised by the department, or any public or licensed private child care agency, and agreed to by the parent.

(3) Failure by the parents to maintain consistent contact or communication with the child.

(4) Lack of effort by the parent to adjust his circumstances to meet the needs of the child in accordance with agreements reached, including agreements reached with local departments of human resources or licensed child-placing agencies, in an administrative review or a judicial review.

(c) In any case where the parents have abandoned a child and such abandonment continues for a period of six months next preceding the filing of the petition, such facts shall constitute a rebuttable presumption that the parents are unable or unwilling to act as parents. Nothing in this subsection is intended to prevent the filing of a petition in an abandonment case prior to the end of the four-month period.

The mother in P.H. was of below normal intelligence with an eighth grade education and little or no family resources on which she could call for help. The appeals court described at length, however, the many changes the mother had made in her work schedule and lifestyle so she could be a more effective parent, as well as the counseling she had used.

We note that a court should terminate parental rights in only the most egregious circumstances because those rights, once terminated, cannot be reinstated. V.M. v. State Dep’t of Human Res., 710 So. 2d 915, 921 (Ala. Civ. App. 1998); and S.M.W. v. J.M.C., 679 So. 2d 256, 258 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996).

As to the father, however, the appeals court found that the juvenile court’s judgment terminating his parental rights was supported by clear and convincing evidence and was no plainly and palpably wrong. Specifically, the appeals court dispensed with the father’s argument (a) that there was not clear and convincing evidence that the child was dependent (the father had been convicted of domestic violence against the child’s half brothers); (b) that the juvenile court failed to consider alternatives to termination, including placing the child with the paternal grandparents (juvenile court had already made a finding of fact that living with the paternal grandparents posed a real ande present danger to the child; and (c) that the juvenile court’s judgment was not supported by clear and convincing evidence of any of the factors listed in §26-18-7 (the list by its terms is not exclusive, and the juvenile court had sufficient evidence from which it could have concluded that the statutory standard was satisfied).

We note that the juvenile court’s judgment terminating the father’s parental rights specifically found that the father was unfit; that he was unwilling to change his habits; that he was non-rehabilitated; and that the “safety and welfare of any child would be threatened in his care.”

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246 thoughts on “What Does It Take To Terminate Parental Rights?”

  1. In Alabama, which is traditionally a conservative state,isn’t it difficult for the Father to obtain sole custody without the Mother’s consent? Doesn’t there have to be some sort of REALLY SERIOUS wrong doing by the Mother in order for this to happen?
    Our son has a serious girlfriend who lays claim to having joint custody of her child but the child is almost never with her. Her X has the child on Christmas Eve, overnight & Christmas morning, she gets her for short time on the afternoon of Christmas and is required to return her to her Father afterwards. And this is every Christmas, She doesn’t have her on Thanksgiving either. She has had her at Easter but only for a few hours. The Mother must live in the same school district as the Father to have her overnight on weekdays & the child spends most nights with the Father and his wife.. We’ve known this Mother for 4 years and this has been the jest of things concerning the Daughter. Our son has never been married and has no children, so am not sure that he actually knows the definition of joint custody. This Mother seems want to be with her Daughter. I once asked her why she allowed the Father to take so much control and she said that if she complained about the situation He’d take her back to court. WELL IT LOOKS LIKE COURT IS WHERE SHE NEEDS TO GO IF SHE HAS JOINT CUSTODY AND DOESN’T HAVE ANY MORE TIME WITH THE CHILD THAN THIS. This Mother may soon become a part of our family and we welcome this but we’d like to have the opportunity to get close to her Daughter. ISN’T THIS MOTHER GETTING THE SHAFT WITH JOINT CUSTODY?

  2. my ex-husband has not paid child support in almost 4 years, and in the past 2 years there have been maybe 5 phone calls and/or visits made to my 8 year old daughter. I will be getting married this upcoming year, to my boyfriend/fiance of 5 years, and he has taken over ‘daddy’ duties from early on in our relationship, and he wants to adopt my daughter, especially if her biological father is not going to put forth the effort to be a dad. Do we have a chance of relinquishing my exs parental rights? And how do we go about doing this?

  3. Go after him aggressively for child support. You may find that loosens his resolve and makes him more open to the idea of a step-parent adoption.


  5. I am divorced from a very abusive marriage (my son was the result of marital rape) and during my divorce my ex was granted visitation of my children. We have a son and daughter. Any time he exercised his visitation (which was only about one night a month) he only wanted the girl, never the boy. After a few months my daugther told that he was touching her sexually and making her touch him. We filed a case with DHR and it went to the grand jury. Now, the grand jury has sent back a no bill because of the lack of physical evidence (since it was just touching). He hasn’t seen the kids in two & 1/2 years now (thank God) and my husband is the only dad my kids (at least as far as my son is concerned) know and wants to adopt them. We are about to open the case against him again because it has been discovered that the D.A didn’t present the evidence that my ex has a violent and mentally unstable history. Is it possible to have his rights terminated?

  6. Mine is a rather complicated situation. I was not made aware of my daughter’s existence until she was four years old. She is now 11. Her mother was married at the time and, from that marriage, she was given a sister. They have since divorced. The mother has battled drug problems in the past and often left the children with the step-father for months at a time with no contact. The step-father has since gained full custody of his biological daughter. My daughter lives with him as well and has for a number of years since their divorce. I continue to pay support to the mother that bounces in and out of my daughter’s life. However, my daughter never sees any of this support. I have known that I could pursue custody of her, but I do not want to throw that wrench into her life. First of all, it would separate her from her sister that she has grown up with. Second, he is a good man that loves her. I do not like paying support to the mother while the step-father raises her. If I were to take this issue to court to have the support terminated or diverted to the step-father, I know that the mother would reclaim her daughter in order to keep the support. She is much better off with the step-father. So, I continue to pay the support to her and help him out with expenses as he needs it and as I can. My daughter has recently called me and asked me to voluntarily relinquish my rights to him to prevent her mother from getting the support that she is not seeing. She has her own life. She loves me, but doesn’t come to see me as much as when she was younger because she doesn’t want to give up spending time with her friends. Although it would break my heart, I am thinking that it would be in our best interests if I agreed. Any suggestions?

  7. My wife and I adopted through the Alabama foster system. It was and is a nightmare. We were accused of abuse, but no charges were filed and no action was taken other than removal of the child. There simply was no abuse of any kind. That child has been in state custody for almost four years and lives in a mental health facility. We no longer live in Alabama and would like to terminate this adoption without having to hire an attorney from out of state. DHR will not initiate any action. The state is well-past the time limit for a permanancy plan. We receive no updates on the child. We cannot allow the child back into our home as he is a danger to himself and others. We just want to end this disaster of an adoption and let all of us move on with our lives. How do we proceed without an attorney?

  8. I am currently under investigation by DHR. I have a step-son and two little girls. I have been trying to get supervised visitation. I have been prohibited from seeing my children. I am not allowed to have any contact with my children until a series of interviews are conducted. There is no time limit on the scheduling of the interviews. Theoretically, DHR can continue the investigation forever. This information was relayed to me by my lawyer. I have had two lawyers and both are stating the same thing. I have been a very good father to my children but due to an adulterous affair false charges were brought up against me. Can anyone help with any information that might allow me to see my children. I don’t care if it is supervised visitation. At least let me speak to them on the phone. What about guilty until proven innocent? This reminds me of the persecutions that have occurred in the past. Any information would be greatly appreciated. God Bless all of the families going through this horrendous travesty of justice.

  9. I live in Alabama and have a two month old boy whose father is on the birth certificate. The father wants to give up his rights and I am okay with that, however, I do not have anyone to adopt him. Is it possible for that to be done? The father has never provided support nor asked how his child was doing. I would also like to get my son’s last name changed from his father’s to mine. Is that possible?

  10. To my knowledge, no. If I were the judge, I know I would refuse to allow Dad to abandon his parental rights unless I had another father waiting in the wings.

  11. I was considering having my child’s father’s right taken away but from what I’m reading, it will be very difficult if I don’t have another “father waiting in the wings”, which I don’t. My main concern now is having my child’s last name changed from her father’s to mine. How difficult is that, if the father agrees to let it be done?

    I would also like to know how I can keep my child’s father from getting any kind of custody if I died. I just don’t have the money to take away his rights right now. For the record, he left our daughter and me with no warning over a year ago when she was 8 months old. He’s had no contact with us since. He’s never paid child support. I only recently found out where he is; he recently got arrested and will be in prison for the next 3 years. I’m not worried too much about him getting out and wanting to see her; I don’t think that will happen. I doubt a court would grant him any custody or visitation anyway. But what if I died? Would he get her? Even if he hadn’t seen her in many years?

  12. If Dad agrees to change the child’s name, most courts will approve that without incident.

    Cutting off Dad’s right to be the child’s father is quite another matter, and considerably more difficult. By far the easiest way to do it is to show that bio-Dad has had no contact with and provided no support to the child for 12-18 months, AND to have another father ready, willing, and able to step into bio-Dad’s shoes as the child’s father, i.e. to adopt the child. Barring that, you would have a tough time.

    If your main concern is what happens if you die, then talk to a good estates lawyer who can help you draft a will and beef up your direction about who should care for your child with reasons, explanation, etc.

  13. My 6year old son sperm donor has supervised visitations right now with his son. He lives with his parents and does not have a job and is pretty much a bum. He owes like $4000 in child support and he only has to pay like $88 every two weeks. I don’t believe my son even calls him daddy. I’m happy married and have been married for almost 4 years and from day one my husband has wanted to adopt him because he is the one that is pretty much his dad. When my son goes down to his grandparents to supposedly see his dad, his dad is rarely there and doesn’t even really spend any time with him. My son more or less goes to see his parents, and to be honest with you they are not much of parents because they did not do a very good job on raising their son. My son’s dad was very abusive with me physically and verbally, that is the reason why he has supervised visitations. My question is do i have a leg to stand on and how do i go about getting him to give up his rights? He has made the comment before about signing them over but I think the only thing that is holding him back is that his parents has talked him out of it. Also is their grandparents rights in the state of Alabama? Please help me, I really would like my son to not have to go back down there because there is so much drama with them. Thanks.

  14. I need help. My daughter lives in Georgia she is 15. She has a child with a 17 year old in Alabama. His family refuses to let him see his baby. What (if any) legal grounds does he have? To my knowledge, he can’t move out until he is 19 in Alabama. He wants to be with his child. What can he do?

  15. Unless he’s willing and able to convince a judge that his parents are unfit, he is subject to their authority until he is an adult. As a practical matter, minor children defy their parents all the time, and the older a rebellious child gets the more difficult it is for parents to control the child. But in terms of legal remedies, he has few options.

  16. i am the custodial parent of two or my three chlidren the third was adopted by my sister in law when my wifes parental rights were terminated in feb.2006.I was not able to get custody of all three due to things in my life at that time,cps would have gone for termination on me as well if i did not agree to volunteer to give up my rights to my daughter,so i took what i felt to be the lesser of two evils.Now i am trying to divorce my wife and cant afford an attorney so i got a book on how to do your own texas divorce.What i am trying to find out is if i can do the divorce without listing the children. I checked with one district clerk and they told me to file it listing the children but to write on the petition that her rights were terminated and add a copy of the court record to the petition.The problem with that was since it was a cps case the records are sealed and i had to fill out a request to open the file and get a certified copy of it and state why i needed it.The request was denied.I also needed the copy for the attorney generals office because my wife was still listed as the custodial parent and i have been paying for medical support for my two boys now for almost 4 years even though i am the custodial parent and the attorney generals office wont change it without the court record or case number,neither of which i can get.any suggestions?

  17. I can’t speak for TX. I know that in my state you could get a divorce. You would list the children of the marriage in the complaint and describe them in the agreement, and then say something like “all issues involving the paternity, custody, visitation, and support have been set by and shall continue to be governed by [description of the case(s) that are controlling the children].”

  18. I am trying to find out how to sever my ex husbands parental rights to my 5 year old daughter. He has been around her maybe 15 hours her entire life. Since the divorce he has had 2 visits right after it was final. The last one ended in him telling her I was a bitch and we left. He has not paid a penny in child support and has had no contact with us for almost 2 years. How do I do it. Oh I live in texas we have lived here for 4 years, the divorce was done in arizona, but he moved back to texas after the divorce but still has had no contact with us.

  19. If you have a stepfather ready and willing to adopt your daughter once Dad’s rights are terminated, it shouldn’t be difficult if what you say is true. If not, my guess is that you’ll have a tough time getting the judge to agree to bastardize a child.

  20. Can the parent ready in the wings to adopt after terminating a dad’s rights a grandmother? Dad has disappeared and won’t reveal his location and address. Mom is going to ask the court for sole custody, and if this continues to terminate dad’s rights. No child support was ordered per agreement of 50/50 time which ain’t happening. I understand that a step-dad usually steps in, but there isn’t one right now, so I’m asking would a grandmother be approved?

    If something happens to mom, the kids should not go to dad — and heck, he can’t be found anyways. Just worried that if he catches wind of a death, then the courts would let him take the kids becaue he is dad.

  21. You should ask an adoption lawyer about this one. I’m not aware of courts’ having agreed to have a grandmother act in lieu of the father, but neither can I say that it would not be allowed. I just don’t know.

  22. Me and my husband been married 6yrs and have 2 children together. He unfortunately was unfaithful one time and got a girl pregnant who claims she has his child. She lies a lot and has 2 other kids from 2 different fathers. One I know of is was married also. This is something she is really good at and has told him he didn’t have to have anything to do with the child. Now she is hitting us with child support. We are waiting on the paternity but he wishes to have no dealings with her or the child. He told her in the beginning to give it up for adoption because he new he couldnt care for it. She wanted to have it and has been trying to split our marraige through the whole process claiming she is the victom. She lied and said she was on depo shot to prevent and she didn’t know how she got prego but in reality it takes 6-9mths after you get off the shot to get pregnant. I honestly think this was planned as this wasn’t her first time with a married man. My husband just was the gineau pig and made an honest mistake. If she doesn’t agree to let him sign his rights away can he go about it a different way to do so by the courts. He was married to me and we have 2 kids prior to this incident. He is not trying to get away from child support he just wants nothing to do with her or the baby. The baby is 2mths old and he has had no contact and has not supported the mother through the process. Please help as we don’t know if this will tear our marraige up.

  23. Remember that child support isn’t about the bimbo your husband boinked; it’s about a child who needs to be supported. No, he can’t avoid the financial obligation to support the child he fathered, if he is the daddy. It really doesn’t matter how many ways Mom tricked him or schemed to get pregnant.

    He’s required to pay support; he’s not required to spend time with the child, although if you’re correct about Mom’s character, it may be the nicest thing you and he could do for this poor child.

  24. I have a 3 year old daughter by a man, who since her birth has married had two more children. Prior to him meeating me he in another marriage which resulted in the oldest daughter. We never married (thank God) but my concern is the lack of a father my daughter has. He pays child support because he is in the army and theres no way he can get around that. Other than that though he is virtually nonexistent. I can’t get him to make a simple phone call, or make a 5 min trip down the road just to say hey to her. I have consistently kept the door open, but for some reason he refuses to be a real father to my child. He only calls on the major holidays and not even all of them. Just her birthday (March) and Christmas. Other than that it would seem like my baby doesn’t exist. Now I am wondering if i keep record of his inactivity will that be grounds for him to have his parental rights terminated. I am in my last year of school and once I graduate I fully intend on presenting it to him and I feel like it would go one of two ways: 1) he will agree so that he won’t have to pay child support (if thats even true) or he will refuse out of spite. Now if he refuses what are my options?

  25. You’re going to have to show NO contact and NO support for 6-18 months. You don’t seem to have either of these, let alone both of them. He could always agree so he can avoid paying child support, but most judges would refuse to bastardize the child. That is, they would demand that another daddy be ready, willing, and able to step in and take over the parenting role before allowing Dad to terminate his parental rights.

  26. My daughter is 9 years old and her biological father has had zero contact nor paid support to her in 19 1/2 months – I have been married to a wonderful man for 5 years who is ready willing and able to adopt my daughter. We live in Alabama, is this possible? If so, what is the process? I heard that you have to run an add in the local newspaper for 30 days as sort of a “calling out” to the biological father. My fear is that if we did this and he did in fact find out that he would try to fight it just to be spiteful to me. Could he do that? He lives 10 minutes away and we have had the same address and phone number for years as well as we are listed in the phone book but he has made zero effort to contact his child. My daughter despises that she has his last name and she calls my husband “daddy” how long would something like this take to get done?

    1. Hi Nichole,
      You wrote that your “daughter despises that she has” her biological father’s last name. You are correct, the biological father has a paternal right to challenge the adoption and termination. He will certainly raise the issue that someone has been teaching his daughter to hate his last name; and that you neither your new guy, have been teaching his daughter to love her last name. If you and your new guy are teaching the child bad things then the court could find that it is not in the best interest that your new guy adopts the child. The court could also find that it is not in the best interest of the child for you to have custody because while you had custody, you indoctrinated your child to hate the biological father.

  27. You’re describing a “step-parent adoption,” and it’s done routinely. In your case, you’ll need to demonstrate to the court that bio-Dad has abandoned his parental rights before your husband can adopt. That’s not hard to do, but it does take specific pleading, so I would encourage you to hire the best adoption lawyer you can find. If your husband balks at paying for the lawyer, I would call that a pretty reason not to set him up as the parent of your child, because the cost of a good adoption lawyer is small compared to the other costs he’s about to take on.

  28. My husband was sentenced to prison (in Georgia) for 20 years but will only serve 8 years for child molestation of my oldest daughter when she was 8 years old (he was her stephfather). However, I have two children by him. One was two when he went to prison and the second one was born the year he went to prison – both are girls. We have lived with my mother and father who have provided 100 percent support for all of us so I could go to school. I will finish my masters program in about 9 months. Although I do not have any plans to get married anytime soon will it be hard to take away he rights in Alabama since he was placed in prison for child molestation of my oldest daughter? The court ordered total custody to me. He writes my middle child about every 4-5 months but has not had any contact with my youngest. We have been residents of Alabama for 5 years now. He will more than likely be paroled in about two years and having to leave any of my girls with him alone for any amount of time just scares the heck out of me.

  29. No, that’s probably not enough to terminate parental rights, but if you can convince the judge that Dad is likely to abuse his child the way he did his stepchild, you might be able to get any visitation supervised.

  30. My husband has 3 kids in a previous marriage, he pays his child support $800 a month, and isnt behind at all. His Ex wife has refused to let us see the kids for about 9 months now. She has recently gotten remarried and had twins. She wants my husband to sign over his rights to her new husband. I just want to know, if he agrees will the child support and any other financial responsibility be dropped from my husband? We live in alabama. She said if he doesnt want to give up his rights she is wanting him to start to carry health ins on the kids. I have a prob with this, bc she had a really good paying, that she quit to move the kids an hour and a half away from where we live, and I carry ins on my husband and our children, and in my policy it says that we could add step-children as long as we had primary(Full) custody, could the state make my husband get ins through his company he works for if it is double+ what I pay for ins from my company?

  31. I just want to know, if he agrees will the child support and any other financial responsibility be dropped from my husband?
    Assuming Mom is paving the way for a step-parent adoption by her new husband, the answer is yes. If she’s not, I would be surprised if a judge would allow Dad’s rights to be terminated, because that would result in bastardizing his children.

    Could the state make my husband get ins through his company he works for if it is double+ what I pay for ins from my company?
    Unlikely, but always possible, particularly if Mom is unable to insure them any other way.

  32. Thank you so much Lee, the ex-wife does want her new husband to adopt. But this does open our eyes to the insurance thing, I am guessing, if the court does make us get insurance through my husband’s company that would they re-evaluate his Child support and adjust it to give credit for the ins he is paying?

  33. My husband, soon to be ex, was convicted of 2 counts of sodomy and 1 sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 12, which was with our biological daughter. We have 2 other children together. He will be sentenced in about 3 weeks. I want his rights terminated. His divorce lawyer wants visitation with our son since he said the acts did not happen with our 6 year old son. I do not want him to have any contact with any of our 3 children ever again. Can the sentencing judge terminate his parental rights as part of his sentence?

  34. No. In all likelihood the judge for your STBX’s criminal sentencing is different from the judge for your divorce. Even if it’s the same judge, he or she would lack the jurisdiction during criminal sentencing to change the defendant’s parental rights. Dealing with Dad’s parental rights will happen within the jurisdiction of the divorce court.

  35. I have daughter that is 4 years old and her dad has not seen or contacted her in three years. He has not been paying child support and has never done anything for her, he has never spent 1 penny on her I did it all by myself until step dad came along. How do I prove no contact and support get his rights terminate? I have a dad to step in and take biological dads place because her step dad is all she knows. How can I make step dad the dad and terminate sperm donors rights.

  36. If your husband is willing to serve as the parent of your child, he should be willing to pay the cost of adopting her, which will include the procedures necessary to terminate bio-Dad’s rights. You and your husband should consider paying for an hour’s time with a good adoption lawyer to describe exactly what Bio-Dad’s involvement has been and to make sure before you file that you will be able to terminate his parental rights.

  37. Hi, my situation is pretty straight to the point. My fiance has a son from a previous marriage. the ex and him are not getting along, not from reasons on our part. we were suppose to have his son for the time that he was on shore duty. now this was a verbal agreement so there is nothing documenting unfortunately. when we came to his hometown to visit the ex got mad at him and i, dont ask me why i think it is because she is pregnant and sensitive, anyway she took her son and would and will not give him back. now for the 1 in a half school years that he was living with us we did not recieve one penny of child support from her which it is mandated in the divorce decree. it also states in the decree that she is to pay half of any travel,dental,and medical which she never has. she will not talk to my fiance and definitly not me, the only she said via texts was that we had better send his clothes, birth cert, and that she expects child support. we are at odds because we dont mind paying for child support. always have and never been late or missed a payment but we financially can not. we lost out on 500 of sea duty pay when my fiance went to shore duty and we are not due for rotation back out to sea until next year. what do you suppose is the best course of action? should we go as far as filing for a termination of his parental rights? and if we did would we still be obligated to pay child support? if and when we go to court, will the mother get in trouble for not paying and owe us back pay? please help…….

  38. You can’t make Mom be cooperative, so when all else fails, go back to the decree. That’s what the judge ordered and probably what the judge will be willing to enforce. If Dad’s income has dropped and he can’t afford to pay what the judge ordered him to pay, he should ask that the child support be reduced.

    If your state is like mine, the judge will have no interest in terminating Dad’s parental rights, because that would be bastardizing the child.

  39. My friend became pregnant with a short term boyfriend. They had very little contact with one another during the pregnancy. He accepted responsibility as the child’s father and signed the birth certificate and the affadavit of paternity. He has been paying $500 a month child support. The mother is now engaged to a man who wants to adopt the baby – they will not be getting married for several months. The mother wants to ask the father to voluntarily terminate his parental rights and the step-father will adopt once the couple marries. If the biological father is in agreement, does a petition have to go before a judge? If it does go before a judge, would a judge approve the termination and give sole custody to the unmarried mohter? Both the mother and biological father are military and the father has had no contact with the child since she was 2 weeks old.

  40. Yes, you need a decree from a judge. As long as we have a new daddy waiting in the wings willing and able to adopt the child, my guess is that the judge would permit it. If I were the new daddy, though, I would go EXTREMELY slowly here. If one of these two isn’t ready to commit to a marriage, why on earth would he be willing to commit to be daddy (and pay child support) for a child he didn’t father?

  41. The biological father of my children’s rights have been terminated and no appeal was taken. He owes $34,000.00 in child support. Can I go after him for the arrearage that was not paid??? I understand that after they are adopted, that was completely sever his obligation to support the children but I am speaking in regards to the support he owes before his termination was granted.


  42. This is not a subject about which I am knowledgeable, so you shouldn’t depend on me to answer correctly. My layman’s impression is that unless the court rules otherwise, the termination of a parent’s parental rights does not affect his duty to pay a child support arrearage and may not even affect his duty to pay current child support.

  43. I just wanted another attorney’s opinion on my situation:
    My ex husband wants to relinquish his parental rights, but will only do so if it will absolve him from all past due child support as well as future and medical payments. I have no problem with this, as he has made no effort to pay nor take care of his child. My current husband will adopt. My attorney said this can be done, but from what I read on Alabama law, the past due child support would still be owed. That is my problem. If it is, then there is no way my ex will sign the papers. What is your take?

  44. My take is that you should trust your attorney. It sounds like your attorney has done the research to be satisfied that the relinquishment can be engineered so as to accomplish Dad’s objectives, and I guess that’s good.

  45. I live in Alabama and am going through a divorce. We have a biological child and two adopted children. I (husband) would like to terminate parental rights for the two adopted children. She is okay with this because she was the one who wanted to adopt and parent these two children. Is this feasible and what are the legal guidelines?

  46. Clint, if I were the judge I would not be interested in terminating your obligation as parent unless and until there’s a new daddy waiting in the wings ready to adopt the children and provide for their support. No judge wants to bastardize children. Unless you can find a judge who sees things differently (most don’t), I’m afraid you’re stuck.

    This is probably a great illustration for those of us who may be considering adopting children. They’re not like cute little puppies we can bring home and then take to the pound when they misbehave and we get tired of them. Children are permanent.

  47. I have full custody of my child. The mother hasn’t seen our child in 1 year and hasn’t paid child support. She has a felony charge and mental problems. How do I fill out the petition to terminate parental rights? I think it $100 but I don’t have an attorney and I think I can do it myself because there are so many things against her from child abuse( physical and mental), abandonment, failure to follow visitation established by judge and DHR, mental problems, not paying child support, and felony charges! Is there I guide line I can use to help me fill out the petition or a website or Alabama state link or do I need an attorney???? PLEASE HELP!!! I’m assuming I can file for a court appointed attorney?

  48. If Mom is absent, why is this such a priority? If for some reason it is both crucial and urgent that you terminate parental rights, the easiest way to do it is to have another Mom ready and waiting to adopt. If you don’t have that, and probably even if you do, I wouldn’t try this without a lawyer. And no, I’m not aware of any program set up to provide a court-appointed attorney to terminate anyone’s parental rights.

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