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My ex isn’t listed on the birth certificate, can I just have my new spouse adopt my child?


Most adoption proceedings are actually a two-step process, first you must terminate the parental rights of the biological parent, and then there can be an adoption. If you want your new spouse to adopt your child, you must first terminate the biological parent’s rights. Before termination can take place, you must notify the biological parent. This is true regardless of whether they are actually listed on the birth certificate or not. If you do not know who the biological father is, there are ways to seek a termination regardless, but it can be a more complicated process. The same is true if you do not know where the biological parent is, you can ask the court to step in to help with providing notice but there would still be a termination.


My ex never pays child support, can I terminate their rights?


A termination of parental rights can either happen voluntarily (the biological parent consents to the termination) or involuntarily (the biological parent contests the termination). Involuntary termination has to be based upon specific factors such a failure to fulfill parental duties, abuse or neglect. A failure to pay child support may fall under one of these sections, however it usually must be combined with other facts, such as no contact with the child, etc. Child support alone is usually not an automatic bar or an automatic granting of the termination of parental rights. Keep in mind that once parental rights are terminated, the child support obligation would cease, so if a parent is paying child support or you rely on that support, it will cease as part of the termination process.


I don’t have any contact with my child, can I just sign away my rights?


In Pennsylvania, a court will not allow a parent to voluntarily sign away their parental rights unless it is part of an adoption. If there is an eligible individual seeking to adopt your child, you may be able to consent to a termination, but otherwise that will not occur.


You should also understand that you cannot ask someone to sign away their parental rights unless it is also part of an adoption in most cases.

Legal disclaimer: The information provided in these FAQs is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for personal legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Further, legal advice cannot be given without full consideration of all relevant information relating to an individual’s specific situation. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied.

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