Sole Custody & Removal of Parental Rights

by Abandoned from Florida

I'm a single mother of my 3 yr old son, whose father left just before his 1st birthday without a word/goodbye/anything. He has never called, written, made any attempt in any way to contact me, any of my family, nor especially my son.


No one in his family has heard from him since before he left us as they no longer speak to him either so they have no idea where he is.

He doesn't pay child support (obviously) but I don't want it anyways. How do I remove his parental rights if I do not know where to find him?

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear Abandoned,

In Florida, there is usually no way to terminate parental rights unless there is a pending adoption. From what you wrote, it sounds like you were not married to your ex; in which case, and in light of his actions, he has very few paternal rights anyway.

If you were married to him, and you were to remarry and your new husband wanted to adopt your son, you could file a Joint Petition for Step-parent Adoption.

If at that time you did not know the whereabouts of your ex you could serve him through constructive service, which means to advertise your intention of taking legal action.

There are specific ways that constructive service must be carried out, such as where and how to advertise.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Comments for Sole Custody & Removal of Parental Rights

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Mother Lost Custody of Other Children
by: Linda from Clermont

How does my grandson get sole custody of his son? My great grandson and one of his siblings (unrelated to me) have been with me for a year and a half. The unmarried mother has four children by different fathers. After two years with DCF who have given her every opportunity to get herself together, the court has proven she is an unfit mother. She lost custody of three children whose fathers are deceased. She is appealing, but she has no basis for an appeal. Because of the appeal, she still has supervised weekly visits for 1 hour with the children at DCF.

DCF and the Court approved, concurrent adoption and custody plans be put in place. My grandson is classified as "a non-offending parent." Of course, my grandson wants his son. For his part, the court required him to attend parenting classes; drug classes and testing; and anger management classes which he has successfully completed all the court requirements. My grandson was recently awarded custody of his son with DCF oversight for 6 months before final custody. He wants sole custody of his baby. We have all the court records and court findings.

--It looks like DCF and the courts have your grandson's situation under control. If you are asking if he can ask the court to terminate the mother's parental rights, it sounds like they are in the process of doing just that.

I suggest your son talk to the caseworker assigned to his case and find out if there is anything that he needs to do, or if he needs to make a request on his own. If so, have him consult an attorney to find out how to move forward. --Staff

Sole Custody From Missing Spouse
by: Jackie form Miami

How will it work to apply for sole custody, when I already have to file a notice of action for diligent search for this missing individual?

--If your spouse is missing, then "sole custody" and decision making authority is what you have by default. --Staff

Dont Assume Sole Custody is Forever
by: Anonymous

My ex left when i was a few months pregnant. He saw my child one time and then just left and after being served a restraining order because of drug fueled threats, he was not heard from for five years. I inquired about terminating his parental rights... only thru adoption I was told. So i assumed he would never come back.

Now my child just turned six and my ex has brutal attorney, long story short.. my child just had to meet his 'father'. It is SICK that this was allowed to happen. and now two times a week my child has to do webcam visits, and i am sure that visitation is next. I feel powerless against this boys club world we live in where a man can abandoned and threaten to kill you while pregnant, be in arrears over 30,000 and just waltz back in WITH NO CONSEQUENCES for his actions, just an attoeny, a piece of paper that said he went to rehab and THATS IT.

The SAME JUDGE told me SIX years ago that if he ever came back, random drug tests, anget management classes, parenting classes etc would have to be done. NOPE. NOTHING. and it is HORRIBLE. So PLEASE dont ever just assume they wont come back. Do EVERYTHING you can even if it means have your best friend or parenst adopt. I wish I had.

Disclosure Laws & Medical Records
by: Unmarried Father from Florida

I am an unmarried father with established parental rights, current time sharing is 60/40. Mother has 60. Mother hand wrote letter giving me sole parental rights while she was in detox for addiction to opiates. Third trip to detox in less than one year. Mom now out of detox and staying out of county but wants parenting plan back at 60/40. Already filed 12.902a modification of parenting plan asking for sole parental responsibility, included copy of hand written letter and explained live in short term detox treatment has not been successful in past. Best interest of child to live in stable drug free environment. Mom has attorney who answered back denying all allegations in relevant paragraphs. I followed up with a motion to set trial date.

What I want to know is how can I get records and information from treatment center verifying her treatment before our trial. And prove fact that she is currently homeless (her parents kicked her out last relapse) and she is staying with friends out of the county of the residence listed in our parenting plan. I don't want my daughter traveling a 3 hour round trip with her grandfather to accommodate the current parenting plan. Plus worry that her mother may relapse again leaving my daughter with strangers until time for her grandfather to pick her up and return her at the agreed upon time and I would never even know whats going on. I don't want to go before a judge with he said/she said. I want proof.

--I don't think you are going to be able to obtain proof from the detox center. Her treatment there is confidential, because it is medical treatment. However, law enforcement records are not confidential, they are public and easy to obtain. There may be arrests that you don't know about. Also, if she has frequented houses known by law enforcement to be drug houses, you may be able to obtain a statement from law enforcement.

If her friends and associates have criminal records for drugs, and you can show that she spends time with these friends, this may persuade a judge that she is using.You can demand that she be drug tested; and that they use a hair follicle test. And you can also demand that she prove that she is clean and drug free for a certain amount of time. Many drug abusers can clean up for a short amount of time to get through a court date, and many cannot stay clean for a substantial length of time. If you are alleging her unfitness then the Department of Children and Families (DCF) should get involved.

One of their services is to conduct a home study to find out whether the parent has a suitable place for the child. If she is living in a homeless shelter and you can prove that, and you can offer your daughter a home, then it is easy enough to see which place is in the best interests of the child. Some parents seeking custody contact DCF and invite them to their home for a home visit so that they have a positive report in hand by the time they go to court. --Staff

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