Q: How can I get full custody of my son?
My 11 year olds father has been in and out of prison since I was pregnant. He is currently in prison as well. He has never cared for nor paid any support for child. Could this be considered abandonment? Do I need to go to court for full custody or can this be considered abandoment? How can I get full custody? We reside on New York.
A: Based on the limited facts you have described, it seems best to file a petition for custody. It is possible the court could order some amount of limited visitation if the father shows up and argues strongly in favor of it. Although considering that he has played no role in the child's life, for 11 years, the fact that he is currently in jail, and the reality that he has failed to support the child in any meaningful way, it seems unlikely that the court would award any amount of substantial visitation. Depending on a number of other factors, the court could also find that the father is not "fit" and therefore he could be stripped of his parental rights. In the petition, it is important to clearly state that the father has not played any role in the child's life and has failed to support him. All off these factors will be considered and even the argument that he has effectively abandoned his parental rights by failing to involve himself in the child's life. Most importantly, however, you want to show that awarding you full custody and preventing him access to the child is in the child's best interest. List every fact that you can think of to make this case.
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