Hello. My girlfriend of 6 years is still married to her previous husband. They have been separated for over 6 years and she and her son currently live with me in NC. Her ex is the child’s biological father but he knows me as his dad. He has never even met his real father. He was abusive to her and has a vast criminal history for drugs, violence etc. and I believe he is in prison at the current time. We would like to get married but we need to get this divorce taken care of first. My girlfriends concern is about getting full custody of her child. I can’t see how any judge in their right mind would give him any kind of custody but it still worries us. What should we do? How hard is it to get a divorce because we don’t know for sure where he even is. Do we have a good chance of getting full custody also? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Your girlfriend may get divorced without dealing with the custody issue. If she and her ex have no joint property the best course of action would be to file for an absolute divorce. If she and the ex have joint property she will need to include a claim for Equitable Distribution simultaneously with the action for divorce, or she will lose the rights to have the courts distribute the marital property.
As for custody, the current situation will not change upon divorce.
ok thanks. so do we need an attorney? How do we file for the divorce? Also, would he get any kind of visitation rights? We heard about putting an ad in the paper of his last known location. Is this a good course of action? What is the first course of action to get this underway? Also, there is no shared property and we dont even want child support from him.
Many people file an action for absolute divorce on their own. You should check with the clerk’s office in your county to see if they have a do it your self divorce kit.
As for service by publication, you must first attempt to have a party served by registered mail or sheriff’s service at the last know address.
The father could get visitation rights in the future if he decided to pursue an action for child custody, he will not get visitation automatically, and no visitation rights will stem from the divorce itself.