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What is Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Family law attorneys may spend most of their time dealing with divorce, child custody and support issues, but parental rights are another area that falls into their domain.  In addition to giving parents physical rights to spend time with a child, parental rights also include the right to decide on the type of education, religion, health care and morals a child should have.  Beyond that, these rights also come with responsibilities, which include providing the children with clothing, food and shelter and all necessary child support, healthcare, etc.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights FAQ

Family law attorneys usually spend most of their time dealing with divorce, child custody and support issues, but parental rights are another area that falls into their domain. In addition to giving parents physical rights to spend time with a child, parental rights also include the right to decide on the type of education, religion, health care and morals a child should have.

Beyond that, these rights also come with responsibilities, which include providing the children with clothing, food and shelter and all necessary child support, healthcare, etc. Sometimes, for a number of reasons, a parent may voluntarily choose to give up their parental rights.

I’ve compiled this FAQ to answer questions about voluntary termination of parental rights. If you have a question about voluntary termination of parental rights that is not answered here, or you need more assistance in any area of family law, please click here to contact the Colorado Springs family law experts here at Marrison.

My daughter’s mother (we were never married) wants me to voluntarily give up parental rights so that her husband can adopt our daughter. If I agree to sign the papers, will I have any right to ask for visitation or have any say in how she is raised? If I voluntarily relinquish my parental rights is there any way that I will be forced to pay child support at a later date?

Colorado family courts will often allow a parent to voluntarily relinquish parental rights when there is another person willing to take responsibility for the child through formal adoption, as in the case of your child’s step-father. In fact, that is one of the few reasons for allowing a parent to voluntarily give up parental rights.

If you choose to voluntarily terminate your parental rights you will no longer be financially obligated to your child, but you also give up any rights you have to see the child or make any decisions regarding your daughter’s care, religious instruction, medical care or anything else concerning her life.

The court’s first concern is with the welfare of your daughter and you should have that as your first concern as well. Think long and hard about your decision and be sure that if you choose to terminate your parental rights that it is a decision you can live with.

If you are on good terms with your daughter’s mother, you may be able to find a mutually acceptable way to remain a part of your daughter’s life, but once your parental rights have been legally terminated you will have no legal recourse if the mother and adoptive father later change their mind about letting you see your daughter.

I am a single mother and the father of my child has not been in the picture since I was pregnant. He is not interested in being a father to our child, and frankly, I don’t want him in my life and I don’t want his money. The state insists on pursuing him for child support because we get food assistance through SNAP. Will the courts allow my child’s father to voluntarily give up his parental rights?

In short, the answer is no. Colorado family law focuses first and foremost on what is best for children, not necessarily what is expedient for the parents. Parents are obligated to care financially for their children and the fact that you qualify for public assistance shows that, whether you think the father ought to have to pay child support or not, your child needs the financial support of both parents.

Even if you did not rely on public assistance to meet your family’s needs, the courts will not allow voluntary termination of parental rights without showing good cause.

I have paid my child support regularly but my ex-wife refuses to allow me to see the kids as often as required in our divorce decree. She tells the kids that I don’t pay child support, even though I’ve never been behind. She also lies to the judge saying I don’t show up to see the kids when I am supposed to be there when the truth is that when I come to get them she usually says that they are not at home or are sick. As a result of her lies, I barely have any relationship with my kids and I’m tired of paying child support just to see her blow it all at the nail salon or bar hopping with her friends. Can I legally terminate my parental rights since I’m not getting the chance to be my kid’s father?

Regardless of whether the parent has a relationship with the child, a judge will not grant a voluntary termination of parental rights simply so the parent can avoid paying child support. If you are serious about wanting to have a relationship with your children, you should contact an experienced family lawyer who will advise you how to document your ex’s refusal to make the children available for visitation.

Your lawyer may also suggest family counseling with your children to help you find ways to mend your strained relationships and help you to provide not only the financial support, but the moral and emotional support that your children need from you.

My 17-year-old daughter gave up a baby for adoption because she was clearly not able to handle the responsibility of raising a child. Now, a few weeks later she has decided that her decision to give the baby up for adoption was a mistake and she has been talking about trying to get the child back. She claims that I pressured her and that she never wanted to give her daughter up. I’ve told her to just leave well enough alone and forget about the baby because no court would give a baby back to a 17-year-old mother. Am I right?

Your daughter may have a case and she should consult immediately with an attorney who specializes in family law. Under Colorado law, a birth parent has up to 90 days to change their mind about giving a baby up for adoption, but they must prove that their decision was coerced or made under duress.

It is not unprecedented for courts to give an adopted child back to the birth parents after years with the adoptive family, but such situations are difficult for all involved, most importantly the child, so your daughter definitely needs legal council sooner rather than later. The courts have consistently recognized that minor parents have the legal right to make decisions concerning their children.

That means that they can legally decide to give their child up for adoption, but it also means that they can legally make the decision to keep the child. You have the right as a parent to make all kinds of decisions for your minor child, but you do not have the right to force that child to keep or give away her own child.

Voluntarily terminating your rights as a parent is a big decision and should not be made hastily. You should understand exactly what your decision means to you and your child. If you wish to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney in Colorado Springs, please contact us for a consultation.

Image courtesy of photostock / http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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