Monday, May 9, 2016

Q & A: My son's dad and I broke up. I never want to deal with him again. Can I get him to sign off his rights to our son?

Q : My son's dad and I broke up. We've been living together for 5 years, and our son is 3 years old. I never want to deal with my ex-boyfriend again. Can I get him to sign off his rights? 

A: A lot of people have the interesting idea that it's an easy process to change another person's rights to custody, simply because that parent doesn't want to continue any relationship at all with the other parent.

Your question focuses on Family law, specifically child custody, parenting time, and child support.  One thing to keep in mind is that Family court is a court that sits in equity. Equity doesn't mean everything is split down the middle, but rather that the court make a decision that's fair to both parents.

If there are no court orders in place, and the couple is not married, the court will place primary physical custody with the mother. The unmarried father will have to assert his right to parenting time, but also be willing to take on the support responsibility, even if no support is ordered.

If either parent has applied for or received State Assistance in the state of Michigan, the office of the prosecutor (in the form of that county's Friend of Court offices) will begin a support action regardless (as the Assistance is paid by other tax payers, the support at that time is to re-imburse the state for that Assistance). The good thing about an action started by the FOC is that it also allows for a father to have reasonable parenting time.

A court will not let a parent "sign off" his or her rights without also making a decision in the custody matter. This goes back to the equity idea: it's not fair to take away one parent's rights simply because the other parent is tired of dealing with him or her.

Ask yourself, as a parent, if "signing off" is what is really best for the child. It's understood that these matters are full of emotion, but it's best if the child has a continuing relationship with the other parent, and that the child will get support financially from that parent as well.

Also, without evidence to the contrary, the court will presume that having a relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the child. The court will do what it can to encourage that relationship through its orders.

If you have other questions, please seek a private consultation with an attorney to determine a legal course of action.

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