If you are an expectant father or already father of a child, and not married to the mother, then you need to proactively protect your parental rights. Your rights are not automatic and can be lost quickly and easily. There are three means by which your rights may be terminated:
1) The mother begins the adoption process before or after birth with an adoption agency.
The mother may begin the adoption process with an adoption agency. We need to be able to document that you have been involved in her support while pregnant and have requested updates on the progress of her pregnancy. If you are served with notice that the mother intends to place the child for adoption, call us immediately because we need to answer that petition for you quickly.
2) The state opens a Child In Need of Care case.
Due to drug abuse or mental illness, the mother has been negligent or abusive and the State has stepped in. It is now too late for her to give you the custody and you will need to call us, as soon as you are notified by Child Protective Services, that a case has been opened. We can then seek custody for you so that your child doesn’t go to Foster Care. The State aims to place children for adoption for any child in Foster Care for one year. We need to seek legal custody for you before that year is up.
3) The mother marries someone else.
If you have not contributed to your child’s support monthly and contacted your child consistently, she can seek to have your parental rights terminated and her new husband adopt your child. If you are served with any notice of pending adoption, call our office immediately to file an answer.
To protect your rights you need to do two things:
A) Pay child support by check, direct deposit, or through the State, if it has already been ordered, beginning as soon as you know the mother is pregnant. Even if you are behind, you need to pay $100 per month per child or this can be used as grounds to terminate your rights. Do NOT pay cash or money order, unless the State’s Support Enforcement Office has ordered you to pay by money order.
B) Make a point to visit/contact/talk to your child as soon as it is born at least once every 14 days. This can be by phone, in person, by facetime, skype, by letter, by email, send a card, send a present. If you do not attempt regular contact and document it, this can be used to terminate your parental rights. These can be two-hour visits to McDonald’s or entire weekend visits. Print any emails or texts. Photocopy any cards or letters. Print any Amazon orders you have had shipped directly. Start a kitchen calendar and list every attempt at contact on the calendar.
If you are not satisfied with the contact the mother is allowing you to have, hire us to pursue a custody proceeding. We can seek 50/50 custody, alternate weekend and alternate holiday, or once monthly plus summers if you live far away. Call Ellen Cronin Badeaux, LLC at 985-892-1955 firstname.lastname@example.org We have represented Dads in Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Jefferson, Livingston, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington Parishes for 28 years.