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I am trying to gather information about seeking sole custody…

Hi there! I am...

Hi there! I am trying to gather information about seeking sole custody of my son after his biological father has been out of contact.

Lawyer's Assistant: Family law varies by state. What state are you in?

I am in California, but my son was born in New York. We have been in California since May.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

Not here. I briefly spoke with one in New York.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I don't think so. Thank you!

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
My son's biological father has insisted that he will not pay any form of support. I am not seeking support. Just to terminate his parental rights.
Customer reply replied 8 months ago
to clarify, my son is 14 months old, and his father has not attempted to see him since he was 6 months old.
Answered in 7 hours by:
11/18/2017
lawyerJ
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Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm a licensed attorney. I'm reviewing your question and will respond shortly. Please note, all information is provided for educational purposes only.

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Ok. First, you don't necessarily need to terminate parental rights in order to pursue full custody. However, you could pursue termination on the grounds of abandonment. Here's a sample form out of San Diego for a Petition for Termination of Parental Rights. Depending on where you're located, the information will likely be the same although the form may alter slightly.

You'll also need to file a new petition to develop legal custody of your son. That would be this form, here. You'll simply check that you, the petitioner, want custody. If your son's biological father doesn't answer the petition after being legally served, you can then file for a default order, which means that you'll essentially get everything you ask for.

Because you and your son are located in California, you can file for custody and/or termination of parental rights there. You will need to ensure that his biological father receives copies of the filings in New York, but he will then need to respond (if he does respond) in the California court that you have filed in. If I've fully answered your question, I'd appreciate a five-star rating. If not, please let me know how else I can assist you.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you for your help. What is the procedure for serving papers if I do not know where he is, or would prefer to avoid contact because of past abuse?

California requires that you make reasonable attempts to locate him first. If you don't know where he lives, but know where he works, you could have him served at his work location. Before the Court accepts that you can't locate him, you'll have to show that you've:

Looked for the other part at their last known residential and work addresses;

Mailed letters to their last known address with a request for the letter to be forwarded;

Contacted the other party’s family, friends, and any other contacts for information about their current whereabouts; and,

Conducted research—such as in phone books and online—for information on where the other party is located.

If you've done all that and still can't find him, you can ask the Court to give you permission to serve by publication, which involves publishing your petition in a newspaper in the area where you believe him to be. It's far easier to have him served, despite the desire to avoid contact, as it will complete the process much more quickly. You can hire a process server to serve him to avoid personal contact, but it's in your best interest to have him served more quickly than service by publication would allow.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
If I am able to find him and serve papers, what happens next if he does decide to respond?

If he does respond, you will not be permitted to file a Motion for Default Judgment. Instead, you'll present to the Court the reasons you believe that you should have full custody, i.e. the father has never been your son's life, he refuses to pay any form of support, he lives in New York and your child is thriving in California, he was abusive to you during the duration of your relationship. You should make it clear in your petition that you are not seeking supportt, but instead custody. It sounds like the biological father is more concerned with financial aspects than custodial, and perhaps if you make it clear that you're not seeking a monetary contribution, he might either decide not to contest your petition, or not file a response at all.

You can do this all yourself, but I would recommend that if he files a response that you seek out an attorney. There are a number of pro bono attorneys in California that can assist you for no charge. Here's a list of them.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
If there is a need to present these reasons to the court, is there anything I can provide to prove my reasons? What would a court consider?

Print out any records of conversations that you have with your ex -- emails, print outs of text messages, etc. While that's the strongest evidence, the Court will also listen to descriptions of events that you provide. Start writing down your recollection of events -- what happened after your son was born, any times you remember your ex showing interest in visiting him, any gifts (or lack thereof) that your ex ever provided, etc.

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Thank you for your help!
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