Divorces often go to court if there is an unresolved matter in between, and that is usually the child in question. No matter the age of the child (below their legal age), parents fight for child custody and usually mothers get child custody unless deemed unfit to take care of the child.
But, there are several other reasons why a mother or father may deliberately and willingly sign their parental rights away, like unable to pay financially or physically not being there because of day-long commitments.
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Child Custody and Parental Rights
There is always a custody war between couples when they’re filing for divorce, and when the matter goes to court, the judge decides the custody based on several factors that would benefit the child.
- Emotional and psychological health of the child as per new circumstances
- Whether each parent will promote a parent-child relationship with the other parent
- Whether the parents can communicate effectively
- How much each parent contributed to the child’s upbringing
- How geographically close or far the parents are to each other
- Any other criteria that is significant to the decision
However, parents also have the right to give up their parental rights if they believe they’re not financially, mentally or physically stable to take care of themselves and the child.
When does a Father lose Parental Rights?
Only the court has the authority to terminate rights of the parent, and a father can lose his parental rights if it is proved that his presence harms the child in any way. This is also called involuntary termination of parental rights.
Grounds for termination of parental rights include:
- Child abuse or neglect by the parent
- Willful abandonment of the child
- Failure to pay child support for more than one year
- Placement of the child in the custody of social services for at least six months, during which time the parent willfully fails to pay child support
- The parent’s inability to care for a child due to incapacity
- Failure for a father to provide for or acknowledge a child born outside of a marriage
- A parent’s danger to a child by committing certain felonies, including sex offenses and homicide
- The parent relinquished a child to social services for adoption
If the court has valid reasons to believe that the child may be neglected or abused, the court can involuntarily terminate parental rights of the father, or the mother. The main agenda of the court is to make decisions that benefit the well-being and health of the child.
Can a Father Terminate his Parental Rights?
While undergoing divorce, a father may choose to terminate his parental rights if he wishes to not pay child support and eventually not have anything to do with the upbringing of the child.
There are two major reasons why a father may choose to willingly terminate his parental rights: the child is being sent for adoption, or the father can’t afford to keep the child. That way they can terminate the rights and not pay child support.
A father can willingly sign his rights away by filing a petition, filling out forms and heading towards the right court that will handle the case. Filing the paperwork may cost you in between $200-$500 depending on the jurisdiction.
The case is fought in the court and the judge gives an order. If the father’s petition is responded to in a favourable manner, meaning the court agrees to terminate the rights of the father, the father has no legal responsibility of the child. He has no say in any of the decisions regarding the child, or any input in his religious or societal changes. Moreover, he will lose any custody and visitation rights, and will have no say in who adopts the child in the future.
Mother Giving up Parental Rights
Being a mother, or being a parent isn’t an easy job. You have a whole human to take care of which means giving them education, healthcare and your unconditional love without expecting anything else in return.
Giving up full custody of the child means that the mother can no longer play an active part in the decision making of the child’s life, and everything will then be done by the father.
There are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child lives physically, with their guardian, and legal custody gives certain decision making rights about the child. Even if a mother gives up full custody of her child, she can still obtain visitation rights and certain privileges.
If a mother voluntarily gives up parental rights or loses custody of the child, she is still required to contribute financially to the child, known as child support. Depending on how much she earns and what amount the court has fixed for the case, she is still required to pay for child support.
Sign Over Parental Rights Forms
If a parent wishes to sign over their parental rights, they can simply do so by searching for the forms online, or click here for a fillable version of the form.
Termination of parental rights form can be obtained from this link, click here.
The form asks for all important personal questions that the parent is required to answer, and then they are required to sign it at the end. You can submit it online and wait for a notification regarding this then.
The process for legally ending your rights depends on who will be caring for the child. If the child will remain in the care of one parent, you can sign a domestic contract giving the child’s custodial parent sole custody. This will allow that parent to be solely responsible for health, travel, educational and other care decisions for the child without requiring your consent.
A mother can give up custody or a father could give up his parental rights to avoid paying child support, and that too legally. But that will strip them of their rights with the child including any daily involvement, decisions regarding education and healthcare and even visitation hours.