I am now divorced, and was granted custody of our child when she was 2 years old because the mother didn’t show up for the hearing. A couple years later and after I remarried, I find out the child isn’t mine.
My new wife was abusive toward my daughter so we granted permanent guardianship to my ex-wife’s parents, who still have her. I want my name taken off the birth certificate and my custody rights terminated since I’m not the kid’s father. The problem is no one can find my ex-wife’s mother who has had my daughter for the past 6 months.
So how do I serve someone if I can’t find out where they live? And how do I go about getting my name off the birth certificate since I’m not the father?
In most states, you need to have a Court Order to remove your name from the birth certificate.
You need to contact a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state immediately as paternity laws vary from state to state. In many states, if you were married to the mother at the time the child was born, you are dad. A genetic test is not needed and the Court could, and it seems the Court may already have, declared you the father. Some states even prohibit genetic testing once a man has been legally determined to be the father. Since you were married at the time the child was born, there was likely a presumption that you were the father which was solidified with the divorce decree. Some states do allow a genetic test and may extinguish a support order upon the discovery that the child is not your biological child. More so in instances where the biological father has been identified for support purposes. Because each state has different laws relating to paternity you should discuss your revelation with an attorney licensed in the State of Maine.
In terms of serving your ex-wife without knowing where she is located, your attorney will be able to tell you the requirements in your state for exhausting service. The Courts do not expect you to go door to door all across the nation trying to find your ex. Some states will allow you to send notice to her last known address while others require publication or an affidavit that you could not find her.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.