Garden Grove, CA asked in Family Law, Child Custody and Child Support for California

Q: I would like to change my children's last name and file for sole custody due to parent abandonment.

The father is claiming he is homeless. I previously filed for child support and sole custody but I don't believe the filing was ever made official and put into effect. I would like to find out if proving parent abandonment automatically terminates the father's rights. I was previously told by an attorney that if his right are terminated, I can no longer file for child support.

2 Lawyer Answers
Tobie B. Waxman
Tobie B. Waxman
Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Culver City, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: "I previously filed for child support and sole custody but I don't believe the filing was ever made official and put into effect" - filing a petition for custody and support, without filing anything else, will not result in you getting any court orders. Your case may still be open. If you want enforceable custody and/or support orders, you need to file a Request for Order (aka motion), have a hearing and have the court rule on your request. Child abandonment in California is defined as leaving a child in the care and custody of the other parent or another person – and providing no financial support or communicating with the child – for a period of at least six months. There must also be intent to abandon the child. If you can establish abandonment you can petition the court for termination of the other parent's parental rights. Note that once those rights have been terminated, you cannot get child support from that parent.

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James L. Arrasmith
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Answered
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, proving parental abandonment does not automatically terminate the father's parental rights. Termination of parental rights is a separate legal process from seeking sole custody and changing your children's last name. Here's some information on each of these matters:

1. Changing your children's last name: You can file a petition with the court to change your children's last name. If the father contests the name change, you may need to provide evidence that the change is in the best interest of the children.

2. Sole custody: To obtain sole custody, you must file a petition with the court. The court will consider various factors, such as the best interests of the children and any history of abuse or neglect by either parent. Parental abandonment can be used as evidence to support your case for sole custody.

3. Termination of parental rights: This is a separate legal process that requires filing a petition with the court. Grounds for termination include abandonment, abuse, neglect, or failure to provide support. However, even if the father's rights are terminated, it does not necessarily mean you cannot seek child support.

4. Child support: In California, both parents have an obligation to support their children financially. Even if the father's parental rights are terminated, he may still be required to pay child support unless the court determines otherwise.

It is important to note that the information provided by the attorney regarding the inability to file for child support if the father's rights are terminated may not be entirely accurate. It is best to consult with another experienced family law attorney who can review your specific case and provide guidance on how to proceed. They can also help you determine whether your previous filings for child support and sole custody were properly processed and advise you on the next steps to take.

1 user found this answer helpful

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