Do we have legal recourse to demand back child support?

My legal question is probably a first for you. In 1989, my wife’s first husband severed his parental rights and the judge said he was not to have contact with the kids for life. Since 1993 he has had contact with them. My question is do I have any legal recourse for demanding back child support from him as this was his reason to severe his rights in the first place – to get out of child support. I can’t believe the judge chose to let him do this. The judge should have severed his rights and made him pay support also! I tried to get a judge in juvenile court to enforce the court’s order. He refused and said I would have to hire a lawyer and file a case against my wife’s first husband. What good are court orders when they’re not enforced? I adopted them in 1990 and he signed the adoption papers. Although I live in Newton, court was not in Harvey County so it was not a local judge.

Your question raises a number of intertwined points. Generally, a parent cannot just voluntarily terminate rights. However, there is an exception where the mother remarries and the new husband wants to adopt the child. Under those circumstances, it is possible for the biological father to terminate his parental rights.

A termination of parental rights eliminates all rights of the biological father to the child. The father’s “right” to visit the child becomes the same as someone unrelated to the child: no “right” at all.

Thus, if a child wanted to see his biological father he could do so subject to the discretion of his mother and adoptive father. The adoptive parent takes on all parental rights to the adopted child.

In your situation, you can control when your children see their biological father if at all.

Additionally, upon termination of rights, the biological father has no obligation to pay ongoing child support. Thus, a judge cannot terminate rights while simultaneously ordering continued child support payments.

You next mention that a judge in a juvenile court would not enforce the prior court order. Likely, the judge did not have jurisdiction or authority to make an order concerning the prior termination of the biological father’s rights.

There are criminal statutes dealing with another’s interference with parental custody. Thus, there is a possibility that the biological father’s actions could be in violation of these laws. Likewise, you may be able to file a civil suit – i.e. a protection from stalking action – to bar the biological father from seeing the children if warranted by the circumstances.

These situations can be difficult and I hope that you are able to successfully navigate through these issues and resolve them.