After your marriage is dissolved (divorce) or your paternity action is finalized, the next issue that a “single” parent thinks of is, “who will get my child if I die?” Can I leave “Junior” to my parents, or my sibling? The short answer is no, you cannot. The other parent will not lose their parental rights if you die, they will continue to be the parent and now Junior will go live with them full time. Yes, even if they do not have equal time-sharing; yes, even if they live out of state; yes, even if Junior does not want to live with him or her; yes, even if you are re-married and junior is closer to his/her step-parent than his/her remaining parent.
There are issues that may negate what is stated above: Does the surviving parent have substance abuse or psychological issues? Does the surviving parent not want to have junior full time? Is the surviving parent deployed? These are issues that parents need to think about when dissolving their relationships.
If you need assistance with planning your child’s future, in the unfortunate event that you die before your child has reached the age of majority, you should speak with an attorney that can assist you with your parenting plan, a will or even a trust. On some occasions a step-parent adoption may be the best options to avoid “custody” issues for your child. The attorneys at Schwam-Wilcox & Associates can assist you with your planning needs. We can ensure this issue is addressed in your parenting plan, in your will (or estate planning trust) or with a step-parent adoption.