A woman recently posted on Avvo:
I divorced my husband because of abuse. My daughter is 4½, and he hasn’t visited her since she was one (court-ordered supervised visits). He also hasn’t paid his court-ordered support in approximately three years. How do I go about getting him to sign off on his rights?
As we’ve noted before, this is a very common misconception: Payment of support is actually a separate issue from termination of parental rights (TPR). The woman in question could “TPR” her ex-husband and still collect. That said, she might use non-payment (and most certainly abandonment) as evidence for a TPR.
Good question from Avvo recently:
I live in New Hampshire; the divorce and child support were determined in Massachusetts. New Hampshire does not require support of an 18-year-old student; Massachusetts does. We changed some orders in New Hampshire when my daughter went to live with her dad for a year in Ohio. She has been living back in New Hampshire for the last three years. My daughter is a college student and needs the financial support that her father can afford to provide. [Which state’s] child-support laws govern her support?
If the original decree occurred in Massachusetts, then that is the law that should be applied. The mother in this situation could attempt to suggest a change in circumstances – but she would be wisest first to retain an attorney to review the facts and circumstances of her specific case to see how that applies.
Whether a single woman’s boyfriend can adopt her children was asked on Avvo recently:
I’m a single mom – have been for five years. My kids’ father hasn’t seen or spoke to his kids in the five years that he has been gone. He doesn’t pay child support – nothing. I have a boyfriend I’ve been with for 11 months. He lives with us, helps with the kids, and my kids adore him. He is the first male figure in their lives (besides my dad and brother). Well, my boyfriend is here to stay. We have talked about him adopting the kids. He helps support them, so why not? He already treats them like they are his, provides over 50% of their support. How can we do this, and is it possible to even though he and I aren’t married?
The simple answer is yes, and it might actually assist with the termination of parental rights, if that is what the mother is seeking. However, this is an enormously complex issue with many legal and practical pitfalls, so I strongly suggested she seek specific advice from an attorney in her area.
A recent Avvo post caught my eye, as the issue raised by the mother is one often misunderstood:
Can a father who owes $25,000 in child support see his child even though he has been absent for 12 years? The biological father of my child is seeking visitation, but has never paid child support although there is a court order, and my daughter does not want to see him.
Support and visitation are supposed to be separate issues. That said, 25k is a lot, and I expect that a judge would certainly ask what the father is doing in that department. The age of the child is the most important issue here. The child does have a say in things, but the weight of that is relatively minimal. That is, until it’s just about dispositive after 16. Anyone involved in such a situation should seek the advice of a local attorney.