Family Law Questions? Ask a Family Lawyer Online.
Hello, thank you for your question. My name is Brandon.
Are you currently married to your children's father?
You mentioned that the kids are almost two years old--do you have twins?
Yes I do
When was the last time the father visited with the children?
He has never met them
Do we know if the father would agree to having his rights terminated?
He will not agree. I've asked him.
Do you have a husband right now?
Is your fiance interested in adopting the children as his?
Yes he is.
How long until you plan to tie the knot?
(congratulations, by the way)
Getting married august 2014
What are your reasons for wanting the father's parental rights terminated? I ask because it can have some significant financial implications for both you and the children.
Well, he has never been there for them. Hasn't helped with anything because he went to prison when I was 3 months pregnant. He got out and has been back twice. He doesn't seem to want to take any responsibility but doesn't want to sign his rights away. He's also a level 2sex offender. I guess I'm more concerned with my children's safety if he ever gets to see them. Right now he's not allowed to.
Ok, I'd like to discuss two things--first, the pros and cons of terminating parental rights. Second, the requirements.
Usually, when a parent has no contact with his children and no realistic chance of getting custody or visitation, it won't make sense to terminate that parent's parental rights. The reason why is that the termination of parental rights severs the legal relationship entirely--the children will not be entitled to collect Social Security benefits under the former parent if they become disabled, and (more significantly) the parent can no longer be pursued for child support. It is entirely possible for a parent to have zero custody or visitation with his children and still be on the hook for child support. Child support can accumulate for years and the state can use its enforcement powers to collect it from the parent through seizing bank accounts, seizing assets, garnishing wages, garnishing tax returns, etc. It basically turns the parent into a piggy bank because even one chooses to not be in his kids' lives, he's still financially responsible for them.
So I would strongly encourage you to have your case examined in person by a family law attorney before actually taking action to terminate the parent's rights--I understand your nervousness about the father being able to see the children, and you should do whatever you need to do to protect your kids. But normally, when a parent has been completely absent for two years and is a sex offender, no court would consider giving the parent even supervised visitation. It's normally just not in the kids' best interests.
That said, the law does strongly prefer children to have two legal parents for the financial reasons I just stated. It's normally in the best interests of the children to have two parents who can be tapped for support. Even if one parent is a complete deadbeat criminal, the state still prefers that legal relationship so there is a source of money.
Cost wise do you know how much that will even be to go talk in person with a lawyer? Or does that all depend on them.
For that reason, there would ordinarily be no opportunity to terminate parental rights unless there was an adoption, including a step-parent adoption.
We'll talk about step-parent adoptions briefly... I wanted to finish that thought... but let's address your question about costs first. Where in Minnesota do you reside?
Thank you. One moment, please.
Ok, even though you are not in Hennepin County, I am going to refer you to the Hennepin County Bar association for a referral because they have a statewide system that is probably right for you. The way it works is for a $30 fee, they will set up a half-hour consultation with an attorney who has at least 10 years of experience in your area of law. The attorney will not charge for the first half hour of the consultation. This is the website with the information: https://www.hcba.org/Find%20Legal%20Help/AboutLRIS.aspx
You can also try calling around locally. If you do that, you will find that consultation costs are negotiable and highly variable. You can pay anywhere from $150 per hour to $350 per hour.
To conclude what I was saying earlier, to say that it is normally extremely difficult to terminate parental rights without an adoption is an understatement.
The nuances of every situation are different so this information should not be relied upon as complete or advice, but a parent would normally have to wait until remarrying and then have parental rights terminated as a part of a step-parent adoption.
I hope that answers your question. Has this made sense and has it been helpful?
Yes. Very helpful. Thank you so much!
That's great to hear. Did you have any other question?
No thank you
Terrific. I wish you the best. Have a good night :-)