Overseas Father & Custody
by Wendy from Lee County, Florida
Do I have full custody? I have raised my 3 year old daughter completely on my own since her birth. He lives in Ghana, West Africa and has never seen her before, but now is planning to marry a woman who lives in Boston.
I am afraid if he moves here he will want custody of her. We are divorced and he has allowed me to change her last name to my last name.
Since he lives in another country do I automatically have custody of her, or do I need to fill out a form? If so, which form?
Answer to Florida Child Custody Question
If he has never seen her, I'm not sure how he could expect to be granted custody.
You are the parent your daughter knows.
The court must act in the best interests of the child; and while the court believes both parents should be part of their children's lives, it sounds as if he has made no effort to do so.
Does he pay child support?
Since you stated that you have raised her completely on your own since her birth, I'm understanding that he has never supported her at all. It may be that he abandoned her, and that he has no right to her at all. You don't necessarily have automatic custody simply because he lives in another country.
But, you obviously have physical custody of her already. You could request sole custody of her, based on the fact that he has never attempted to contact her or see her. And that it might disrupt her life and confuse her if suddenly a stranger came along.
Have a look at our page on the Petition for Paternity
. With this form, you can request that the court establish a Parenting Plan and child support.Notice:
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