My question involves paternity law for the State of: Tennessee
My daughter is 17 years old and my husband, which she calls Daddy and has only known as daddy has raised her since she was 5 months old. My daughter has not had a relationship with her father, HIS FAULT, he has lived just blocks away from us for over 10 years and before that was a about two miles away. This man was even a police officer in my very small town and while driving by my daughter (once on her 16 b-day while she was walking) he would just turn his head and NOT even acknowledge her. On one birthday he called her to ask what age she was, how pleasant. Her DONOR does pay child support (court ordered) but chooses no visitations or contact. The DONOR came to see her for the first time when she was three weeks old, he called while I was in the hospital after having her and he popped in and out of her life until she was almost four months old. The first time he spoke to her after that she was 8 years old and that was with his wife's encouragement.
My daughter has never formed a bond with him and he blames my daughter for that, I have told him on several occasions that she is only a child and it is not/was not her responsibility to make the first move or phone call. Her birthday was in March and yet this was another birthday/Christmas that she did not hear from them. Keep in mind that he has a step-son the same age & grade as my daughter and they attend the same school. My daughter has witnessed over their school years her DONOR attending school functions and again no acknowledgement to her. The DONOR also has a set of twins, a boy and a girl that are his with his wife.
My daughter is a happy and intelligent child well young lady that is getting ready for her future and college. My daughter carries my maiden name as her last name and she wants to be adopted and her name changed to her Daddy's, my husband. My anniversary is April 1st which will make 16 years married and tomorrow is also the anniversary of the first ever phone call/contact that the DONOR made with my husband. Tomorrow will also make one year ago to the day that the DONOR called my husband and had a conversation with him concerning my daughter and her living situation. The DONOR promised to my husband that he would give my daughter what she wanted which is to sign over her parental rights and let my husband/daddy adopt her. One year has passed and still no release of parental rights or contact from the DONOR to us or my daughter.
So with all that explained.....my daughter wants her name changed NOT hyphenated, and she wants this of course before she turns 18 next March. My daughter has mentioned emancipating herself from the DONOR since he is not holding up to his end of the bargain on releasing his rights. The DONOR also makes sure that every one he talks to knows that "she is a payment" and he almost has her paid her. Completely not a fatherly thing to say or to even spread around to where it gets back to her. Those are hurtful words and actions on his part. What can my daughter and/or I do to take away his parental rights. The DONOR tried to get her last name changed to his when she was 4 years old and the first child support order was pursued. The DONOR had the nerve while in court to ask the judge to change her name and when the judge asked if I agreed to it I explain my reason for saying no. I explained how he had NOT earned the right for her name to be changed because he has never met her or spent anytime with her that she can remember and if he ever stepped-up and earned the right to be called a Father/Daddy then i would consider it. The judge agreed with me. Her Donor knew she was his when I became pregnant, we were dating at the time and had off and on for over five years. When I refused to marry him after I became pregnant he refused then to have anything to do with the baby until I married him. I'm sorry but I was not getting married to someone that was going to be so controlling and I didn't HAVE to get married just because I was pregnant.
Yes, I pursued child support when my daughter was four years but only because I was in the process of getting her name changed over to my husbands when the DONOR found out about it and stopped us. The DONOR's name was not on her birth certificate at this time. I assumed which was my mistake that if he had to pay child support he would sign her over willingly. He absolutely told me that he would not sign her over because that is what I wanted. This is just not what I want, this is my daughter's one wish. I do not force her to think this way and it is not spoken of around her unless she brings it up. I've always made a point to not say anything derogatory about him in front of her.
I know emancipation means that she should be able to support her self without parental help but is emancipation possible or should we go a different route. My daughter has researched scholarships/grants for college as well and she stands a good chance to qualify for them without being forced to use her DONORs income especially when he doesn't provide any type of support other the mandatory child support, she does not live off of and she is not provided with anything that he and his wife have/or will have to offer. The child support is not necessary for her to have to live her life, she is provided for just fine.
So what advice can you give me to help with this? I apologize for such a lengthy post but I feel it is necessary to explain the situation and get full information so that I can get pointed in a good direction. I know this could make a really good case for someone to take and could also help other children get out of situations similar to or like this one.