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Custodial mother wants to know if she can terminate fathers' rights due to crime and DV

Your Question:
My exhusband and I share joint custody of our 11 year old daughter. There is no visitation or child support order in place. He has never provided financially for our daughter and he has not seen her in over 12 months. He has a history of domestic violence with his current wife, and does not maintain a consistent place of residence. In addition, he has been in jail and was just recently convicted of robbery. He will be in jail for at least another 4-9 months. Would this be enough evidence/information to have his parental rights revoked? I'm looking to obtain sole legal & physical custody without visitation.

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My Answer:

It takes quite a bit for a state to terminate a parent's rights. The state doesn't want to pay for another child (i.e., by terminating a potential child support payor), and the state wants to steer clear of violating a little thing called the US Constitution.

Except in the most extreme cases, the state will make every effort to rehabilitate a parent before terminating rights.

If your ex is a convicted child molestor and murderer, you can probably get his rights terminated.

But if he's a bit of a hothead who has gotten into trouble with the law for crimes that don't involve danger directly to children, you're going to have a very tough time convincing a judge to terminate his parental rights.

So long as you don't have major issues yourself, and so long as you're not to blame for him not seeing the child for 12 months, you shouldn't have a problem getting sole physical custody of the child.

Your ex can petition the court for some time with the child when he's out of jail. A judge may decide - at your request - that the time be monitored by a professional visitation supervisor until the time that your ex demonstrates he's stable and okay with the child.

I can understand your desire to just wash your hands of this loser once and for all. But the problem is that you chose to have a child with this loser... and it takes quite an extreme case to convince a judge that there is zero chance of him ever having a positive relationship with your child and that he poses an immense danger to the child.

Instead of trying to figure out how to exterminate this person from your child's life, try to think about all the constraints that can be put in place to insulate her from his chaos... supervised visits, removal of any legal authority he has to make decisions on her behalf, etc. A court can much more easily order such things than to terminate a parent's rights (i.e., essentially making a permanent order that the state no longer recognizes the relationship between father and child). Use the court for its abilities, which may be different from your ultimate desire.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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