A father may choose to terminate his parental rights during a divorce for a number of reasons. Giving up fathers parental rights is an extremely big decision that will have an impact on both the father’s and child’s life. In doing this, the father gives up all their legal rights, obligations and privileges and the courts never view this lightly. Once granted by a court, the decision will be permanent and cannot be reversed if you decide to change your mind.
Terminating Parental Rights and Child Support Obligations
If the biological father decides to relinquish his parental rights during a divorce, this does not always remove child support obligations. In some jurisdictions, the family court may decide to relieve the father of his financial obligations only if the other parent agrees to this choice. If the mother cannot provide financially for the child on her own, the court may decide that the father will still be responsible for support.
Adoption and Relinquishing Rights
A fathers parental rights may be relinquished by the biological father in cases of adoption. There are many situations involving young people who are expecting a child and are unable to provide the proper care for their baby. The expectant parents may seek options for giving their a child a financially stable future, when they unable to do so. Often times, adoption can be a great alternative that can help all of the parties involved. When a father decides to give up his parental rights so that the child may be adopted, he may be dismissed from any child support responsibilities. Any arrearages in child support will still have to be paid.
Court Ordered Termination of Rights
Even though some fathers may decide to give up their parental rights during divorce, the courts may be decide to terminate a father’s parental rights under the following circumstances:
- Failure to maintain contact with or provide support for the child
- Evidence of physical or sexual abuse against any child
- Proof of Child Neglect or abandonment
- Extreme mental illness or psychological disorders requiring confinement
- Incapacity due to prolonged alcohol or drug abuse
- A felony conviction for any type of violent crime against a child or another member of the family
- Lengthy term of incarceration resulting in a negative impact on the child
- The parent has killed another child, whether it was an accident or not
A judge may decide that if the father poses a risk to the child by putting them in a dangerous situation or forcing them to commit a crime, his rights may be terminated immediately.
When to Seek Legal Advice
A father may continue to be held responsible for financially supporting his biological child, even after giving up his paternal rights. For example, if the mother becomes indigent or requires welfare or government assistance to provide for the child, the court may order the father to pay support. Whenever you give up your rights, it is important to get qualified legal advice before making such an important decision. An experienced family law attorney will be able to evaluate your case and apprise you of the laws and requirements in your state.