• terminating parental rights in california

Terminating Parental Rights in California

For various reasons, there may come a time when a parent’s rights are terminated under California law. What this means is that the parent is no longer considered the minor child’s legal parent, and all rights and obligations of being a parent end. The issue of terminating parental rights in California often comes up as part of an adoption process. For example, in a stepparent adoption, the biological father can consent to the adoption and voluntarily waive his parental rights. If the biological father is not willing to do this, the Court may, under certain circumstances, terminate the biological parent’s rights without consent.

Terminating Parental Rights in Stepparent Adoption Proceedings

In a stepparent adoption, there are legal reasons a court will consider terminating parental rights in California. They are: 1) when there has been a willful failure of the parent to communicate with and support the child; 2) when a parent has abandoned the child, or 3) when the biological father is unknown. There are strict requirements that must be satisfied to terminate parental rights under any of these three scenarios. The chart below provides more detail regarding the process required to terminate parental rights in California when a stepparent is seeking adoption of a minor without voluntary consent of the biological parent.

Statutory BasisStatus of Absent ParentRequirementsInvestigation/CostHearing
Willful Failure

(Family Code Section 8604)

Formerly married to spouse or domestic partner or has presumed father status.Must show that the absent parent BOTH failed to communication with the child AND failed to support the child for more than 1 year.Social Services will investigate as part of its adoption investigation, at no additional cost.No separate hearing is required. The judge will consider your willful action and the adoption request at the same time as the Petition to Terminate Rights.

(Family Code Section 7822)

Formerly married to spouse or domestic partner, or has presumed father status.Must show that the absent parent EITHER failed to communicate with the child OR failed to support the child for more than one year. If the absent parent cannot be found, you must notify his relatives of the abandonment action and adoption request.Usually a separate agency, most often the probation department, investigates an abandonment petition. The cost can be up to $900.A separate hearing must be held before the adoption can go forward.
Termination of Alleged Father

(Family Code Section 7662)

Alleged fathers onlyMust serve the alleged father with notice; he can waive further notice or, if he does not file a paternity action within 30 days, his rights can be terminated.No separate investigation. Social Services will wait for you to complete termination of rights and will submit its report indicating that the child is free for adoption.In most cases, no hearing is required and the Judge will sign an Order after you submit the Petition to Terminate Rights and supporting Declarations.

Terminating Parental Rights in Juvenile Dependency Court

Another scenario where parental rights are terminated is during a juvenile dependency court proceeding. If one or both of the minor’s parents have substance abuse problems, are involved in criminal matters, are found to be abusive, or otherwise unfit, the Juvenile Court can terminate one or both parents’ rights. When parental rights have been terminated, the government becomes the legal custodian of the minor child. This allows the minor child to be placed for adoption without the biological parent’s consent.

A Parent Cannot Voluntarily Relinquish their Right ...

A parent cannot voluntarily relinquish their right simply to avoid paying child support or to resolve custody disputes, even if the other parent agrees. A parent cannot unilaterally give up their rights as a parent to avoid paying support. In order for a parent to give up their rights, there must be a stepparent willing to take over the responsibility and obligations of the child through formal adoption.

Terminating parental rights should not be taken lightly and a Petition to terminate parental rights is not always granted. A parent will not be successful in having parental rights terminated just because they are upset with the other parent or don’t want them to be a part of the minor child’s life. In order to have a court formally terminate a parent’s rights, there must be a legal basis to do so.

If you need help with terminating parental rights or filing a stepparent adoption in California, contact our office. We have over 40 years of experience helping people successfully navigate the adoption process and can help prepare and file a petition for terminating parental rights, should that be necessary.

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By |2019-04-14T16:36:49-07:00April 17th, 2016|Adoption, Family Law|138 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.


  1. Alison G April 13, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Can a man sign over his parental rights while the woman is still pregnant?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 14, 2019 at 9:52 am

      I am not sure. Probably not but I would check with a lawyer.

  2. Angel M March 26, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I have made a mistake in the past and was with a woman who cheated on me after being married for 3 months with a previous guy that took care of her first son, had a child with him and they broke up. I came along and made that mistake and after being cheated on finding out shes pregnant. Did a paternity test and it was mine. We have been divorced for a year, and a noncustodial parent. I dont see the child at all and wanting to remove my parental rights and dont want it to carry my last name? Is it possible for this?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 29, 2019 at 9:53 pm

      I am not aware of any way for a father to relinquish or give up parental rights unless another person adopts the child. You may want to talk to a lawyer.

  3. Veronica Leuty March 7, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    My daughter’s father is $40,000 behind in child support, he’s been in and out of her life and has never been consistent. My husband came into her life when she was 5, she’s now 16. My daughter’s dad is wanting to sign over rights but I’m not wanting to drop back child support, will this be an issue or will back child support be dropped if she’s adopted by my husband?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 8, 2019 at 6:33 am

      As far as I know, adoption does not automatically dismiss arrears unless the parties agree to that. As far as trying to collect these arrears, if you are doing that through DCSS they may close the case once the adoption is finalized. Check with them.

  4. Vianka Lopez February 25, 2019 at 2:13 am

    This one is tough, my husband had an affair and ended up getting her and myself pregnant. we ended up having our baby’s the same week, me and my husband have a total of 3 kids together and we are working on our marriage. The mistress is violent and has a history of drug abuse, my question is: if my husband claims he does not want a relationship with their baby how would he go about it? he hasn’t even signed the birth certificate because he doesn’t know if it’s his.

    • Sandy McCarthy February 25, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      If your husband is the father of a child I would assume he would be responsible for child support. I do not believe signing or not signing a birth certificate would have any bearing on his legal responsibilities as a father. He may want to speak to a lawyer.

  5. Cassandra Kachel February 12, 2019 at 8:55 am

    My ex is a very violent and mentally unstable person he was just arrested for simple assault for beating up his current girlfriend and attempting to suffocate her 2 year old child. My daughter (ex is the father) is 3 and he hasn’t seen her since she was 8 months old because of his violence. Am I able to terminate his rights without his consent due to his violent actions

    • Sandy McCarthy February 14, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      You probably will not be able to terminate parental rights, but you probably can limit his visitation rights with the children.

  6. Renne January 19, 2019 at 11:05 am

    There has been 2 cases of molestation unfortunately with proof the courts still won’t do anything and still give in parenting time he was absent for 2 years and comes and goes I don’t want my children to be hurt again is there anyway I can come to agreement I was willing to give up my part of the retirement?

    • Sandy McCarthy January 21, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      HI Renne – I do not really understand your questions but if you need legal advice about your rights and remedies, you will need to ask an attorney. Our role is simply preparing paperwork.

  7. Arya January 17, 2019 at 8:49 am

    I was 16 when I had my daughter in the state of California. Me and her father lived together up until she was about 2 yrs old and I suffered from a lot of mental illnesses that pushed me into a dark place. I eventually left my child with her father and moved back to another state where I could get the help I needed. My daughters father eventually moved on and had another child with his now ex girlfriend. Both of them continue to raise my daughter as theirs.. I have always maintained contact with all of them and have mailed out many things for my daughter (money, clothes, gifts, phones) This past year have made 2 long trips to California and have stayed with my daughters father. (ex gf is now married to another man) While visiting them I was told by both my daughters father and his ex gf that they were going to file an adoption. I am against this and recently filed papers (2 days ago) for custody and visitations. Is there a way she can actually adopt her even if she is no longer with the father and is married to another man??

    • Sandy McCarthy January 17, 2019 at 9:07 am

      If you are actively in your daughter’s life I would say probably not. It is good that you have filed for visitation.

  8. allyson flores January 17, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I have a question? so my boyfriend of 5 years signed over his rights to his daughter when she was about 11/12 years old.She is now 18 she was not allowed to have any contact with his family or anyone until she was 18. her dad was in prison when she wrote him a letter asking for him to sign his rights over so her step dad could legally adopt her so he did. YET now years and years later we get letters saying he owes about 30,000 dollars back child support. We have sole custody of his other 3 kids not by the same mom we are raising full time and i would like to know what my choices are to get all this old stuff behind us and be able to move on. We live in Louisiana now and not in Cali. so its a lot harder for me to find out what to do since im so far away can you please give me some kinda of direction on what to do from here

    • Sandy McCarthy January 17, 2019 at 9:08 am

      I would talk to an attorney regarding this because under California law we cannot give you legal advice. Good luck.

  9. Marcie December 17, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for all the information you have provided and I hope you can guide me in the right direction. Is there a way to adopt my niece? I live in Canada, and my half-brother (father of niece) ended his life 2 years ago. My niece’s mother is a drug addict and homeless and wants to relinquish parent rights over to me. I was just informed of all of this yesterday. My first concern is getting my niece into a safe situation temporarily as soon as possible. What wpuld be my 1st steps as this is not an eqsy one with me being out of country. I know I will need a lawyer but hoping for some advice as to where to start, I feel like I need to call everyone. Thanks in advance

    • Sandy McCarthy December 19, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Marcie – I am not sure what the rules are in Canada regarding adoption.. Does your niece live in California? You may need to file something in Canada. I would talk to a Canadian attorney first.

  10. Mary December 13, 2018 at 9:08 am

    The father of my baby wants nothing to do with me or my daughter. Luckily, I’m marrying a wonderful man who wants to be a father to my child. We are marrying in Michigan before her birth and paternity is established in Michigan as If parents are married to each other when a child is born, the mother’s husband is the child’s legal father. Should there still be paperwork completed by the bio dad confirming he is waiving his parental rights?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 14, 2018 at 10:44 am

      A parent can typically only release parental rights through an adoption. In other words, your spouse would need to file a stepparent adoption which paperwork we can prepare. Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

  11. Jennifer November 16, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    I’m petitioning to adopt my stepson who I’ve cared for these past 5 years. Bio mom hasn’t supported financially or contacted the child in those years. (No bday cards, no phone calls, no letters in the mail, etc) However, she has made “token efforts” to contact my husband via Facebook. Does this count as communication with the child?

    • Sandy McCarthy November 25, 2018 at 8:14 am

      It will be up to the judge and important that your petition is properly prepared to address the required legal issues. Contact us if you need help at 800-747-2780.

  12. Melissa November 8, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Hi, my twins are 12 and have never met their biological father. He has not seen them since they were 4 months old and has never paid children support. I was never married to him and he is currently in jail, how can I get him to relinquish his right?

    • Sandy McCarthy November 13, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      Usually relinquishment if a parent’s rights requires someone else (another father) to adopt.

  13. Patricia September 19, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Question : if i had my parental right terminated about 8-9 yrs ago can i refile to get my children back? If i am correct i signed my rights away do to a drug problem, i have been sober for the past 7 and a half yrs and would really like to see my kids

    • Sandy McCarthy September 20, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      We could not advise you on this issue. Speak to a lawyer to go over your rights and options.

  14. Julie Torpin September 13, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Hello I have a question? My kids got taken from me by cps and I didnt do what was required by cps in time so the family reunfication was terminated now they are adopting out my kids . I want to knoe if im able to keep on contact woth my kids after they are adopted?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 17, 2018 at 9:50 am

      Unfortunately I cannot answer that question for you. You may want to talk to an attorney.

  15. Crystal Leans September 9, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    If someone is married and is pregnant with another man’s baby. Is her married husband the father by law in the state of California? Well I’m from Texas by law the child would be her husbands until proven not to be. But at birth the husband says it his.

    • Sandy McCarthy September 11, 2018 at 12:15 pm

      If you need legal advice, I would run this by a California lawyer.

  16. Christina July 15, 2018 at 12:06 am

    Hello Sandy,

    I am trying to figure out the proper legal procedure to add my adopted children (ages: 10, 8, and 6) [not legal finalized yet] to my insurance. my insurance request legal documentation that my children are mine. The state of California terminated the biological parents’ parental rights due to child endangerment and neglect of all three of my kids back in 2012. Currently, my adopted mother has legal guardianship of my children awarded by the state, I have been financially supporting my children and helping my mom for last few years. How would I go be able to finalize my kids adoption without having my kids go to court?

    • Sandy McCarthy July 15, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      I would assume that you would have to terminate the guardianship held by your adopted mother. Talk to an attorney for more direct guidance on your options. Once you know what you want to do then you can contact our office to prepare the paperwork.

  17. Jacob Hall July 14, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    I am currently in process of step parent adoption under 7822 and 8604, i have filed and trial setting is in less then two weeks. The bio parent has not payed support or visited for a year. However in responce to the filing the Bio filed for visitation under a different judge who looks to be about to order it. My question is since I allready have the “year” will supervised visitation destroy my 8604/7822 case? or will they still honor the year? and grant my step parent adoption?

    • Sandy McCarthy July 15, 2018 at 12:57 pm

      That is hard to say. You may want to try and consolidate the two cases.

  18. FATIMA CALLES July 8, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Hi I am considering having a baby and I am looking in a wedside name knowdonor and I was wondering if in the state of California he will have any rights over a child even after a contract he wants to do it the natural way so I am concerned that he might have right even with a contract .

    • Sandy McCarthy July 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      Please talk to an attorney if you need legal advice.

  19. Jason Chartrand June 14, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Hello sandy,
    Both mother and I have legal and physical custod of a 10 y/o male and 13 y/o m. We have split visitation about equal for the last nine years dependant on my work schedule. No child support either way. Mother decides she does not like the way father disciplines boys and states she wants to keep the boys for the next two year. My 13 y/o refused mother’s offer to stay with her only and has continued visitation exchange as usual, however, I believe because of what my 13 year old tells me, the mother has inticed my younger son to say he does not want to live with me Nile’s s he can have somethings his way, the way mother does it. Mother had my son for 5 months before we got to court. She claim she is keeping my 10 year old intel I agree to use he chosen therapist of which she had assessed by her therapist without my written consent. Now the family court of Marin has placed the boys an the mother is therapy waiting for the therapist assessment. There is no threat of physical or mental abuse by the father . Father claims mother has taken child inticed him that father is the base of you bad feeling. For over six months my phone messages are blocked, mother has not incurraged communication. No return from fathers messages or phone call. Mother did not advise father that child was in sports. I could not contact my child during Xmas, thanks giving, my birthday, his birthday, school activities. Mother has also used fathers visitation time for the last three years to send both boys to two to three week camps without my written consent. She is doing it again this Summer.

    I wan t my son returned to me even if he is still upset with my parenting style. I want her to not use my visitation time for her agenda. The court gives us each two weeks vacation each summer.

    • Sandy McCarthy June 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      You probably need to file a motion and get the court involved. We can help. The longer time passes the more difficult it will be.

  20. Amber reis June 2, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    hello, my husband and I are in the state of Iowa. We currently have two kids together and he has a child in California and the mother ran away when she found out that she was pregnant. And didn’t try to get child support until the kid was a year-and-a-half almost 2 years old. And my husband is wanting to sign over his rights due to us not being able to afford to pay child support a month. Do we have to get a lawyer to sign over his rights or can we draw paperwork with a quart?

    • Sandy McCarthy June 3, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      I did not know of any way to terminate parental rights unless another father adopts. You may want to speak with a lawyer.

      • Angie Aguilar July 12, 2018 at 9:51 pm

        Hello Sandy,
        I have four children my two oldest ones from a past relationship and the other two from a relationship im in right now.Well the partner im with now, we have build a stable family with the 2 children we have and my 2 oldest ones we are not married but he wants to adopt them and he has took full responsibility of them.My 2 oldest kids have a really strong bound with him as if he is the only father they have and know since they know nothing about the biological father he has never been their for my kids and also I had file to take away his rights 2 years ago we are still going to court since he abandon the children when my daughter was about 3 and my son was couple months old now she is gonna turn 8 and my son is 5 i have met up with both CPS and the childrens counselor and both have granted my petition in taking away his rights will the judge grant me the petition to my favor? since he has been showing up to every single court we had

        • Sandy McCarthy July 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

          I am not clear about what hearing you now have before the court. You may want to call our office3 at 800-747-2780 to discuss your situation in greater detail so we can let you know if we can help you with the paperwork.

  21. Jose April 30, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    In California can I give up my parental rights as I have never met the child? after 2 years I have been served by the state to pay child support. the mother decided to go thru the pregnancy without me being involved but now wants child support? Do I have any rights to terminate my parent rights? We were never together or dated.

    • Sandy McCarthy May 1, 2018 at 3:06 am

      As the article discusses, U do not believe a father can give up their parental rights. Unfortunately most states require financial support from 2 parents. Talk to an attorney for more information.

  22. Jose April 30, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    I had a child who I did not want to be with. the mother understood and we lost contact. Now I am being hit with support. Child is almost 3 and have never met the child. There is no documentation or birth certificate that says I am the father. can I opt out of child support if I terminate my parental rights? I have no plans to be in the childs future

    • Sandy McCarthy May 1, 2018 at 3:07 am

      If you are questioning paternity you may want to pursue that avenue.

  23. Mar.C April 20, 2018 at 3:32 am

    Hi Sandy my husband has a 5 year old son, mother has been doing false allegations against my husband, my 5 children & my self. That we beat him , that my 8 year old daughter has sexually touched him & that I did as well. We have been dealing with social workers & sheriffs at our home for the past 31/2 years all to be un found!!! The social workers and sheriffs all are on the same page that she is coaching him but can’t prove it, so we came to the conclusion that the only way we can stop her from harassing & causing trama to all kids is for him to sign over all his rights?! What do you think?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 23, 2018 at 11:46 pm

      I am not aware of any legal process that allows a parent to sign over their rights. Someone would have to adopt the child. Talk to an attorney if you need legal advice.

  24. John April 17, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I have custody of my son now she was dirty with my newborn so they took him I still have my other son and currently I havee been jumping through hoops to try to get him back currently I have gave 1 dirty test just cause I was going through a lot I’m worried about them taking my son I have now if I sign over my rights for my son I lost do I have to worry about them trying to build a case to tAke my son I still have I don’t know what to do will they leave me alone cause I already volunteered and gave them a clean test they did a wAlk through and it passed and they checked how much food I have and that passed

    • Sandy McCarthy April 26, 2018 at 1:20 am

      I would speak to an attorney to get some legal advice.

  25. Rox April 9, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    My daughter has a young child and is pregnant with another (same father) due this summer. The father was changed a couple months ago with malicious intent to hurt a child (his oldest, by another women). This child was removed from the home and placed in foster care and will not be returning to his father. The case is still open. My daughter and the young child left this man when he was arrested for the abuse. Can we get his parental rights removed with this abuse charges (2 counts)?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 11, 2018 at 4:27 am

      I would speak to an attorney.

    • Sandy McCarthy April 11, 2018 at 4:29 am

      Please speak with an attorney.

  26. Jennifer April 9, 2018 at 12:55 am

    Ex-husband has not paid child support for his 2 children for over 3 years in California due to financial struggle after divorce. His wife moved to another state and married another man before divorce was even terminated in California and became pregnant with new husbands child. She changes the two childrens last name with out consent of ex husband in Ohio. They are now a family and share the same last name.. Ex husband is full time student and living of VA GI bill. He is ready to graduate and knows that he has to pay back child support. He has explained to the courts that he does not have a job and is a student and attempted to change his child support or lower it a few times without any success. How likley is it that the courts will grant him to give up his parental rights?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 12, 2018 at 2:49 am

      Slim to none unless a stepfather was adopting the child. Must states require 2 parents.

  27. Laurie April 6, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    I am not sure if the county matters, but if so, this is for Sacramento County. Married couple has surrogate (wife could not have kids), surrogate wants to relinquish parental rights as quickly as possible. Surrogate and father (Husband from Married couple) are on the birth certificate. Wife wants to adopt and get on birth certificate. Trying to fill out paperwork ADOPT-200 #11 d (which applies) says “This is an independent adoption involving additional parent(s): then an option box to check “An agreement waiving termination of parental rights, signed by both the existing parent(s) and the adopting Parent(s) is attached. My question is, is this agreement a form, or is it just something that can be prepared by the surrogate, adoptive mother (Wife) and Husband (father)?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 12, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Unfortunately we cannot instruct you how to answer questions on legal paperwork. Our office prepares adoption documentation but do not offer instruction to others. You may want to visit your court’s self help office if you don’t want to hire document preparation help. Good luck!

  28. Sheila March 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    My sons bio father is willingly ready to sign the step parent adoption forms for my husband to adopt my son that should automatically terminate the rights because all of it is willingly.

    • Sandy McCarthy March 12, 2018 at 1:52 am

      This is generally all part of the stepparent adoption process. Please contact us if you need help with the paperwork.

  29. Raul March 8, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    When is it to late after your parental rights have been terminated?

    • Sandy McCarthy March 12, 2018 at 1:41 am

      That’s a legal question that you would need to ask an attorney.

  30. Jean February 17, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Can a mother get her lawyer to send Papers saying child support is $175 a week, plus an additional $300 a month for “preschool” if it never went to court or was court ordered? Do they even take into consideration that the father won’t be able to thrive and keep food on the table with sending $1,000 a month? Or is he just SOL?

    • Sandy McCarthy February 20, 2018 at 2:32 am

      Child support in California is based upon a variety of factors, time with the child and income of both parties. Daycare expenses That are incurred to allow a party to work are typically shared. Unless there is a court order ordering you to pay a specific sum of child support every month, a simple request by a lawyer would not appear to obligate you. Talk to a lawyer if you have any questions about the documents that have been filed in your case. There may be something you have missed.

  31. Alyssa January 24, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Hi, my 4 year old has had zero contact with his biological father since he was 6 months old. His biological father has been incarcerated for 2 years. and is expected to spend the next 6 years in prison. My husband is wanting to adopt my son… There has been no contact via phone or mail. And, there has been no monetary help from his biological father. Does this fall under Willful Failure?

    • Sandy McCarthy February 4, 2018 at 12:45 am

      It sounds like it might but I would suggest speaking to an attorney for legal advice. If you need help with the paperwork, feel free to contact us after you have obtain the necessary information to proceed.

  32. Hauna January 9, 2018 at 4:12 am

    Hi my 13 yr old father has been present in her life sense birth, recently there was an emergency custody order put in place giving granting me with full physical and legal rights. Sense a new CWS case was opened against him he’s decided to tell me he’s just giving up his rights so he doesn’t have to deal with the process or pay child support. Is there legal??

    • Sandy McCarthy January 12, 2018 at 4:26 am

      Unless another parent adopts your child, I do not believe that the father can simply relinquish his rights to avoid paying support. When a court grants a party full physical and legal custody of a child, it has nothing to do with termination of parental rights of the other parent.

  33. Krystal Shendo December 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Hi. My kids’ bio father was absent from thier lives from 2011-2013, then visited with them one day in june 2013. He has not had any other contact from June 2013-now. Child support also stopped for my kids in August of 2016. I then started the termination process since my husband wants to adopt them. We have went through the investigation process for the termination and the adoption process in which the investigator put forth to the courts that she feels it would be in the best interest of the kids to have his right terminated and adoption be granted to my husband. All that was holding us back was finding him. He now has come forward to child support and asked for a midification. In which he has asked for numerous midifications but not to see his kids. I have had the same number so he has my number. I got a call from child support today dec. 19, telling me that he is asking for a modification, and that he told them he has wanted to see the kids but didnt know how to get a hold of me. Which is a lie. We are so close to getting the adoption final, and my kids do not know him at all. They cried when the investigator mentioned seeing him. They are 10 and 11 so they know what and who they want to be around and with. My question is, is there any way that the court would grant him visitation when he has not been there and the kids have went through the interview process and have told the court investigator that my husband is who they see as dad?

    • Sandy McCarthy December 21, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      It is hard to say how a judge would make a decision on this. Have you thought of waiving past due support in exchange for him releasing his parental rights? This may be enough incentive for him to cooperate.

  34. Jay December 7, 2017 at 7:44 am

    6 years ago I got my now fiance and an ex girlfriend pregnant at the same time. Me and my fiance worked through it but my ex told us that when the baby wa born she would do a DNA test. She never contacted me until 3 years later when i was served with child support. And since I didn’t get the DNA test done in the courts time frame I am automatically the little boys father. I wasn’t able to support him due to me going through a hard time when she requested child support and full custody. I didn’t fight it and I gave her full custody. I haven’t been able to until a couple months ago to start paying the child support and I pay my montly amount plus some to make up for what I owe. I have 2 other children with my fiance and I want my other son in mine and my children’s lives. I am planning on getting a lawyer once I have enough money to do so. But my question is, what are the chances of me getting any custody of him since I have yet to even meet him? But I wasn’t even given the chance to be in his life since birth since she stoped all contact when she told us she was pregnant. I just want to get to know my son and allow my kids to get to know their brother. But I’m afraid that since I didn’t fight as soon as we went to court, it won’t look hood on my end. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    • Sandy McCarthy December 8, 2017 at 3:40 am

      Your may want to file a motion for visitation first so you can start to have a relationship.

      • Jay December 8, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Should I file a motion for visitation before I seek out help from a lawyer? Or once I speak to one? And with visitation, am I able to bring my family (kids and fiance) so they are able to build a relationship with him as well?

        • Sandy McCarthy December 8, 2017 at 7:31 pm

          want to hire a lawyer it’s going to get a little pricey. We can certainly help you file a motion for visitation if you want to give our office a call at 800-747-2780.

          • Jay December 9, 2017 at 12:09 am

            Do you charge a fee just to help guide me on how to file a motion for visitation?

          • Sandy McCarthy December 9, 2017 at 3:30 am

            Our role would be to prepare the actual paperwork.

  35. Estrella lopez November 20, 2017 at 2:53 am

    Hi i am needing. Help I’m in a Cps at this moment an they are at the point we’re they want to terminate my husband an i both of us are right to are children need help

    • Sandy McCarthy November 20, 2017 at 2:55 am

      You may want to get some legal advice if they are trying to terminate your parental rights!

  36. Vivi November 15, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Hey I would like to get advice I got pregnant back in May and am now almost due .The sperm donor now claims he want nothing to do with me and our baby now that his girlfriend found out about my pregnancy which i had no idea he had a gf .I’ve asked him numerous of times to sign over his rights and all he says he isn’t signing no papers .Is their anyway I can have the sperm donor on child support while I am still legally married ? And on the birth certificate does he have to be on it so I can have him on child support. I am from California.

    • Sandy McCarthy November 17, 2017 at 4:23 am

      If you are legally married usually the spouse is presumed to be the father. You did not indicate how this other person was a sperm doner. There are special rules regarding this so you may want to get legal advice.

  37. Sabrina Chacon November 2, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    How does a parent get their rights reestablished? Say if one of the parents is in prison and gets out and wants the child out of foster care. (Both parents have rights terminated)

    • Sandy McCarthy November 3, 2017 at 3:10 am

      I would suggest you speak with an attorney. California. You may want to read Cal. Welfare and Institutions Code § 366.26 which provides that a child for whom court has determined that adoption is no longer the permanent plan can petition when the child is no longer likely to be adopted and reinstatement is in the best interest of the child. For a child under 12 for whom the plan is not reunification, the court must specify factual basis for finding that reinstatement is in child’s best interest.

  38. stephanie November 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    HI,my parental rights were terminated in California about 2 yrs ago. Since is has been two years, can I take it back to court to get my children back in my custody. They are placed with a family member, but for some reason the adoption is not finalized as of yet. I haven’t had contact with them for about a year due to the family member keeping them away from me. I did everything I was suppose to that CFS requested plus extra, but I also kept violating the restraining order in place due to my case was domestic violence. I never missed a visit with my children until my parental rights were termininated and it was no longer court required. I really just want to know if I still have a fight…

    • Sandy McCarthy November 2, 2017 at 2:13 am

      Unfortunately you are asking for legal advice. I would suggest you contact a family law adoption attorney who may be able to give you some direction on this question.

  39. Steve October 9, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I’m an attorney, but nowhere near family law (patents). Through a friend, a woman asked my advice on changing the name of the biological father listed on her 7-year-old son’s birth certificate. Basically, she wants to delete the father’s name entirely (bad guy, not involved in any way but likely to contest anything out of spite). Separately, she and her now husband (who has been raising the boy since soon after his birth) are pursuing a stepparent adoption. While I think it is likely they will be able to terminate the biological father’s parental rights, making the husband the legal father, is it even possible for the court to order that the birth certificate be altered, either to change the father to what will be the new legal father or even to just delete the biological father’s name?

    • Sandy McCarthy October 9, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Typically in a stepfather adoption you can change the birth certificate as part of the adoption process. Obviously they will probably have to try to terminate parental rights if father is not willing to consent.

  40. ana loera October 9, 2017 at 2:42 am

    My ex husband and I have been divorced since 2009 and he had visitation rights but disappeared for 5 years never called or visited or payed child support. He came back into the country and showed up at my door requesting to see our 2 kids which I game him to trouble about. Then he appeared once every blue moon.. max 3 times a year for the past five years. Our kids are 13 and 10. Which he never payed child support either. Now he’s taking me to court for joint custody but he’s practically a stranger and our kids don’t want to live with him. I am all they know along with my parents support and now new partner have raised them. Can I still claim child abandonment? I want to terminate his parental rights since he’s been gone for 10 years and violated the court order.

    • Sandy McCarthy October 9, 2017 at 8:51 am

      I would suggest that you file a comprehensive opposition to the motion. We can certainly help you prepare that! Typically you cannot terminate parental rights unless someone is adopting the child and there has been no contact from the biological parent. Call us at 800-747-2780 for help!

  41. Christopher October 4, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I have sole custody of my daughter. The mother is homeless using drugs on the streets. Where do I find an article that isn’t directly related to Fathers losing parental rights?

    • Sandy McCarthy October 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Hi Christopher – I am not sure what it is exactly that you are trying to do. If you have sole custody of your daughter are you trying to terminate the mother’s rights? I do not think that is possible but you could certainly review your current order and perhaps, depending on what it says, file a motion to modify the terms requiring any and all exercised visitation to be supervised. Let us know if you need help with that paperwork.

  42. Christine September 27, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    My boyfriend and I are planning to get married and have kids of our own. His parental rights have been terminated 10 years ago from a previous relationship. I have a 6 year old. How does his parental status affect my child and any children that we may have together in the near future?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 27, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Unless he has a problematic past, my personal option (not to be construed as legal advice) would be that it would probably not affect it at all. Is he planning to adopt your child? Adoptions require a background investigation so if there is something bad in his past, it may affect his ability to adopt.

      • Christine September 28, 2017 at 12:59 am

        As for my 6 year old, other than being my son’s stepfather a legal adoption isn’t necessarily what we were planning son i guses his status wouldn’t affect him. But he does have a fear of losing another child if we have one together. He says he wouldn’t be able to sign the birth certificate due to his belief that any child that is biologically his will be taken away from him because of his termination of parental rights. I guess my real question is does his termination of parental rights mean that he cannot have any parental rights with any child that he is legally bonded to or does it mean he has lost his parental right to only his children that were involved 10 years ago?

        • Sandy McCarthy September 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

          That would NOT be my understanding of the law however we are not attorneys so may want to check with an attorney. Termination of parental rights would typically refer to a particular child. It is not all encompassing for future children.

  43. Tabitha B. September 10, 2017 at 6:53 am

    I have a son from a previous relationship and my daughter from my ex of 4 !/2 years. He played the daddy role to my son up until I left him while pregnant with my daughter. He has substance abuse issues, anger management issues, and also has a history of DV against me. She was born 6 months after I left him in 09/2014, he refused to come to the hospital when she was born, didn’t sign her birth certificate, and he has only seen her a handful of times in the first year while being supervised by his mother. He has refused to have any conversation with me in regards to his daughter since I got married to my current husband and has never paid me any child support. I stopped allowing him at the visits with his mother after my son confided to his pediatrician that when he was left alone with my ex he did not feel safe. My husband has done everything for both of my children from day one and was even there at the birth of my daughter and stayed with me in the hospital, and now wants to adopt them both and give them his last name (they both currently have my maiden name). His mother still takes both of my children every other weekend for a full sunday and brings them back in the evening and I have no plans on that changing since she has been a very active part in their lives and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. How do I go about this process if he doesn’t agree to the termination and the adoption?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      If a parent has not actively been a part of a child’s life nor supported them for a period of a few years, you may be able to file a termination proceeding once the adoption has been filed. Let us know if you need help with that process. You can reach us at 800-747-2780.

  44. ENB September 6, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    IF I AM DIVORCED AND LIVE OUT OF STATE. Is it true that in order for me to allow my ex to put the kids on the new spouses health insurance I have to sign a stepparent adoption form? Amd if so does this automatically end my rights as stated above?

    • Sandy McCarthy September 7, 2017 at 1:38 am

      This sounds a little strange to me. A stepparent adoption removes you as the father and takes all your rights away. I would suggest you talk to an attorney before you sign anything like that unless your intention is to give up your parental rights.

  45. Jennifer C August 18, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    I’m almost due with my daughter and her “father” left immediately after I found out. I’ve spoken to him and he says he wants nothing to do with her or me and I’m “doing this against his will”. He harassed me to have an abortion for almost the entire pregnancy. Is terminating his rights something I can legally do? He wants to terminate them so he has no legal obligation to her. I don’t want child support from him I just want him gone, I think he’s mentally unstable and I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my child with him anyway. Not sure what I’m supposed to do to make sure he’s completely legally disconnected.

    • Sandy McCarthy August 31, 2017 at 4:29 am

      Please read our article on terminating parental rights. It is typically not a possible to terminate parental rights of a parent unless another parent adopts the child.

  46. Laura August 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    my brother has 3 kids with previous gf, her family recently contacted my brother stating that she gave up parental rights. what can my brother do to get his kids back? he hasn’t seen them since their relationship ended bc the ex gf and family wouldn’t allow him to. my brother doesn’t make a lot of money so he’s never wanted to go through the courts

    • Sandy McCarthy August 17, 2017 at 3:14 am

      There are many facts that you didn’t mention. What are the ages of the kids? How long has it been since he has not seen them? Does your brother even have a relationship with his kids? Was there ever a court order with regards to custody? Give us a call at 800-747-2780.

  47. Steven August 6, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I got my girl pregant and is 17 turning 18 and I’m 19… her parents know but her parents and her agree to let me give my rights away if I want. Which I am. If doing so I do not have to pay child support or anything right? It’s kinda over.? And if I Really Wanted 5-10 years later maybe see him I would have to go to court I think…. just wanna know how much info

    • Sandy McCarthy August 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Excerpt from article: A parent cannot voluntarily relinquish their right simply to avoid paying child support or to resolve custody disputes, even if the other parent agrees. A parent cannot unilaterally give up their rights as a parent to avoid paying support. In order for a parent to give up their rights, there must be a stepparent willing to take over the responsibility and obligations of the child through formal adoption.

  48. Jeanette A. August 3, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Hi, I know you’re not a lawyer but maybe I can get answer here, my boyfriend and I are planning on getting married, and he wants to adopt my daughter he’s raised her since she was 2 months old, what we want to know is since her father is unknown and is not on the birth certificate how does that work with terminating the unknown fathers rights?

    • Sandy McCarthy August 5, 2017 at 3:16 am

      You may be able to file a petition to terminate parental rights at the same time the stepparent adoption is filed. Please give our office a call. 800-747-2780.

  49. Anonymous July 31, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Hello. My child is 12 years old. I was never married to the biological father. I’ve had a child support case open since our child was 1 month old (7/2005). We’ve also been to court a few times between 2006-2012. I’ve always been given physical custody, both of us having 50/50 legal custody and him having visitations every other weekend. He has never utilized our court order. He’s nowhere to be found. My Child & I moved 3 years ago and completed address change with the court, as well as mailing him a copy…we’ve never heard from him. Its been almost 6 years since he’s spoken to or seen our child. He has a track record with child support and owes a balance. He quits his job as soon as C.S finds him. I’m married, and my husband wants to adopt my child. Is this something that can be possible? Please advise asap.

    • Sandy McCarthy August 1, 2017 at 2:11 am

      You most likely need to file a separate Petition to terminate the parental rights of the biological father based upon abandonment or failure to support. Let us know if you need assistance with this paperwork. I am not sure that this is something you could do without some type of professional help.

  50. Barbara July 20, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Is agreeing to not seek custody and visitation in exchange for being released from child support frowned upon by the courts? How is it significantly different from termination of paternity? Thank you

    • Sandy McCarthy July 21, 2017 at 2:56 am

      First, I do not believe you can terminate paternity without the child being adopted. You could mutually agree to not seek custody and visitation and no support however support can ALWAYS be changed. Seek legal advice to discuss your situation more specifically. If you need help preparing an agreement, contact our office

  51. Nico July 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    hello I am a military member in California. I was trapped into having a child with a person I barely even know. Paternity test proved it is my child and I still want nothing to do with this situation despite the fact I’m being forced to pay child support. All I wish is for this individual to be out of my life forever with the child so my life can be the way it used to be. I in no shape or form want to be a father let alone being coerced into it. How can I sign over rights?

  52. Jeanette June 19, 2017 at 1:22 am

    My 13 yr old daughters father was just convicted Friday on three misdemeanor charges related to sexual misconduct against his then 13 yr old step daughter. He is going to jail and also has to file as a sex offender. This happened when my daughter was 10. She had to be the key witness against her dad and other than court appearances hasn’t seen him in 2 1/2 yrs. She wants us to terminate his parental rights and have my husband adopt her. I just don’t know what paper work to file. I would like to have him searved at sentencing in a few weeks.

    • Sandy McCarthy June 19, 2017 at 3:10 am

      Do you want to file a stepparent adoption and then a petition to terminate parental rights? If so, please call to get started 800-747-2780.

  53. Nellie June 12, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Situation: the ex live in girlfriend says thru the course of them living together, “this isn’t your child” then takes her words back. They split up after a roller coaster relationship, obviously. She decides when the child is 6 or 7 to get support. Genetic test proves she wasn’t lying about the child not being his but she’s pursuing making him responsible. What are his options, he wants nothing to do with this child or mother. He has moved on, married and started a family.

    • Sandy McCarthy June 13, 2017 at 2:13 am

      I do not follow your story. If genetic testing has proven he is not the father I am unclear how she would be able to pursue support.

  54. Chuck May 27, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Hello if her mother and I agree for me to give up parenting rights to her in divorce would i have to pay child support

    • Sandy McCarthy May 28, 2017 at 1:19 am

      I am not aware of any option in California for a parent to give up parental rights in a divorce. I would suggest you contact an attorney. Typically parental rights are given up when another party adopts the child. It is not a unilateral option.

  55. William May 16, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Hello, am i still able to ask a question? My ex-girl friend (mother) has a permanent restraining order against her for domestic violence with 6 hours supervised visitation with our daughter per week. She is also diagnosed mentally disabled bipolar disorder and has been in and out of the mental hospital several times. Am I allowed to sign over through power of attorney of minor to another person for the care of our daughter and modify the physical visitation to skype session once per week along with a phone call? I eventually want to terminate her parental rights after 1 year and adopt our daughter away. Is this feasible?

    • Sandy McCarthy May 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      As long as a parent has contact with a child, I doubt the court would terminate their parental rights through an adoption. Talk to an attorney.

  56. Chrystal May 5, 2017 at 2:49 am

    How do we stop a step parent visitation agreement is there any way possible to do that or are their rights just as good as a biological parent?chrystal

    • Sandy McCarthy May 5, 2017 at 3:53 am

      Are you looking for legal advice or the preparation of specific legal documents?

  57. tyeisha May 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    if my childs father was absent for the first year and didnt help out financially or try to get in contact with my child can i have his rights terminated without his consent or even notifying him if hes not on the birth certificate?

    • Sandy McCarthy May 4, 2017 at 5:04 am

      Probably not unless another man is adopting. your child. Get advice from an attorney.

  58. Daniel sanchez May 2, 2017 at 8:18 am

    If I give up my parental rights do I still have to pay child support?

    • Sandy McCarthy May 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      From my understanding, a parent cannot relinquish parental rights unless another parent adopts the child. Once the child is adopted, I believe there would be no further obligation for child support. Contact an attorney if you need legal advice in your particular situation.

  59. Jay May 1, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Question, is there any way to fight for parental rights back if voluntary signed your rights over? I signed over rights for wrong reasons and didn’t even believe the child to be mine. Wasn’t there for birth or anything. Haven’t seen the mother since Child must have been conceived. A lot was going on and since the mother put me on child support without me even thinking she is my daughter, I signed over rights instead of a DNA test. I have my life in a better place and now that I thought clearly I want a DNA test to prove she is mine, but I want to be able to fight for some type of visitation. If I am going to be paying child support for her i want to be able to prove that she is mine and fight for rights. But my question is, is it too late to fix my mistake by signing my rights?

    • Sandy McCarthy May 2, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      If you are obligated to pay child support, I am not sure what you mean when you indicated you “signed your rights over”. That appears to be conflicting statements. I am not sure I understand your question. You may want to call our office at 800-747-2780.

  60. Monika Jurgens April 30, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Situation; Mother and father both on probation mother is an addict both arrested her for dirty pee test. Him for no reason he’s clean n sober. Her parents don’t like him and cps had him jumping thru hoops. The system failed him they took his parental rights gave guardianship to mothers parents mother still using father has restraining order to keep away from her and the family. He is a hard working man who wants his son back he’s at a loss cuz he feels it’s hopeless. Can anything be done?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      He may want to talk to an attorney to see what his options are. He may be able to file for visitation or terminate the guardianship altogether. Once he has a plan of direction and knows what he wants to do, he can contact our office if he would like assistance with preparing the paperwork.

  61. jazzmine Ruano April 28, 2017 at 12:38 am

    I live in California and I got pregnant by a guy that lives in new jersey who has a fiance and kids …which I didn’t know ….he is willing to give up all rights can I write a contract of him signing to give up rights and put it through the courts ?????

    • Sandy McCarthy April 28, 2017 at 3:09 am

      Unfortunately unless another father is willing to assume responsibility for the child I do not believe this is possible. However, we are not attorneys so you should contact an attorney for legal advice if you feel necessary.

  62. Heather Burns April 27, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Hello, I’m a single parent of a 15yr old boy. His father passed away in 2005. He has chosen to live with his grandparents and I left California. How do I start actions to give his grandparents legal guardianship??? Please help…

    • Sandy McCarthy May 1, 2017 at 12:19 am

      You may not need a formal court guardianship. Look into the possibility of a Guardianship Power of Attorney. Talk to an attorney regarding the differences between a power of attorney guardianship and a court guardianship. Once you know which would best serve your situation, contact us for the required document preparation.

  63. michelle April 26, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    I have two children from my ex-husband. He is estranged from them (going on 5 years). In that time period he had a daughter, signed over rights to her mother (19). Two additional children, with now a new wife (22). There is criminal history, backed support for over 37 K and I do have my second 5 yr RO. He only recently signed my divorce docs which was tied to the support, this was only done when he showed up to court to fight my restraining order renewal and the Judge made him do so. He’s trying to avoid support, but I have concerns he’s not above using our children as pawns. His phone calls are removed, only supervised visitation remains. Is there a way to terminate his parental rights without allowing him to escape his financial obligation?My children are much older and are just under the cusp of what the courts recognize. They are mature and I would prefer visits being their option which is far less damaging then riding a roller-coaster trying to be ready which turns into rejection.

    • Sandy McCarthy April 27, 2017 at 3:40 am

      I do not think so but talk to an attorney to discuss your situation if you need legal advice.

  64. Claudia Zaragoza April 25, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Hello, I am researching for termination of parentage for my eldest daughter’s biological father. I’m not seeking a step parent adoption because I am not married. Her biological father has been absent from her life since she was 6 months old with absolutely no contact what so ever. No financial support either. When he left, I did get involved in a new relationship (my daughter was then 2 years old) and he became my partner and husband for a total of 12 years. He raised my daughter and although we are divorced now, he still claims her as his daughter and she claims him as her father. My question is, can I file for parental rights termination from her biological father even though I am not seeking adoption?

    • Sandy McCarthy April 26, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      We are not lawyers but as far as i am aware this is not typically possible. Speak to an attorney for advice if you wish to pursue this. Your ex husband could still adopt her even though you are divorced.

  65. Help please April 10, 2017 at 1:21 am

    This article is very informative and correct I believe there should be other reasons why a mother or father should terminate parental rights against the other parent in my situation i have 3 kids which the first 2 father present at birth and sign birth certificate it Didnt work out and we went sieperates ways a decade later í have my 3rd child. Father not present at birth and refuses to sign but she does have his last name but her certificate state father unknow he does pay min child support he paid out of pocket for dna test thats why but he has no part. In her life and has said he has no felling for her and Thats it. My boyfriend who has been my best friend since high school loves my 3 kids and has said he is father regardless of the blood he said fuck dna he wants my baby to have his last name but having the hardest time for judge to grant this even when biological father said please remove Mt last name and child support

    • Sandy McCarthy April 12, 2017 at 3:21 am

      Perhaps you might consider a stepparent adoption after you get married.

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