Does a father have any rights after 5 years of doing nothing forhis child?

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Does a father have any rights after 5 years of doing nothing forhis child?

He has never paid child support, is not on the birth certificate, or has even seen the child. We live in different states; I live in MO and he lives in TX. Additionally, I just found out that he is doing drugs and other bad stuff. I don’t want my child around. People have told me that he could just take the child at anytime and that I couldn’t do anything. So I want to know what rights he has. Also, I was wondering what I would have to do if he is willing to sign over custody.

Asked on March 31, 2011 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Until a court orders otherwise, yes, your child's father still has rights.  However, those rights can be "relinquished (i.e. given up or taken away).  This can be done volubnartily (if the father agrees) or involuntarily (if the father does not agree). 

In MO, the grounds (i.e. reasons) for an involuntary relinquishment of parental rights in MO, are:

  • Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest
  • Abuse/Neglect
  • Mental Illness or Deficiency
  • Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity
  • Felony Conviction/Incarceration
  • Failure of Reasonable Efforts
  • Abuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure to Maintain Contact
  • Failure to Provide Support
  • Child's Best Interest
  • Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child

For either type of parental relinquishment (voluntary/involuntary) a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parent or parents will need to be filed with the court.  For more information you can contact your local Department of Social Services.


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