Child Custody

questions & answers

Question: I am divorced and my ex left AZ after. My children are with me but he still has partial custody. He has not contacted or seen the children in 3+yrs. No card, call or anything. My current husband would like to legally become their father. I have no idea where my ex is or how to even contact him. I have an agency searching for him for non payment of child support and they cannot even find him! Could you tell me how to dissolve his rights as father so that my current husband can make them his kids since that is who they call dad. I also want his rights taken away because if anything were to happen to me I don't want him to be able to come in and take them because they wouldn't know him or feel safe with him because of past events.

Answer: The most direct solution for your situation could be a motion to terminate your ex's parental rights on the basis of abandonment. There are a series of statutes that explain this process, beginning at A.R.S. § 8-531. You should read them carefully. You will find three of them especially helpful: A.R.S. § 8-531 (which defines "abandonment"), A.R.S. § 8-533 (which explains who may file the petition), and A.R.S. § 8-534 (which tells you what to put into the petition).
If you use due diligence to find the man, but cannot, you may have to resort to publication service in a newspaper. Strongly consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in parental severance cases. (So you know, a lawyer's familiarity with family law (divorce, custody, parenting time, etc.) does not necessarily make him/her qualified to handle these type of severance cases. This is a specialized area of law that is governed by a completely different section of the AZ statutes. Make sure the attorney has some experience so you get good advice.

Comments:

On 5/30/08
Lisa said
Very helpful, I'm going through the exact same thing, thanks!!!

QUESTIONS

  • I am divorced and my ex left AZ after. My children are with me but he still has partial custody. He has not contacted or seen the children in 3+yrs. No card, call or anything. My current husband would like to legally become their father. I have no idea where my ex is or how to even contact him. I have an agency searching for him for non payment of child support and they cannot even find him! Could you tell me how to dissolve his rights as father so that my current husband can make them his kids since that is who they call dad. I also want his rights taken away because if anything were to happen to me I don't want him to be able to come in and take them because they wouldn't know him or feel safe with him because of past events.

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