Parental rights are what each parent has in order to be involved in their child’s life after a divorce as well as the financial responsibilities that come with that right.
Parental rights concerns such as visitation, co-parenting rules, and child support are established during child custody negotiations with each parent then required to follow the custody order to that effect.
Parents occasionally wonder about terminating parental rights, either those of an absentee parent or even their own with reasons that initially seem valid,and experienced child custody lawyers usually warn against trying to do that.
In most circumstances, terminating parental rights is an unwise choice, often one that the family court may not allow.
Why Would Any Parent Want to Terminate Parental Rights?\
There are two main reasons why any parent would want to terminate their parental rights:
The custodial parent wants to terminate the parental rights of a non-custodial parent who has stopped visitation and/or paying child support as a means of gaining full parental control over the child.
- The non-custodial parent who has stopped visitation and/or is behind in child support payments wants to terminate their own parental rights as a means of absolving themselves of the financial and personal responsibility of being a parent to their child.
What Are Some Untruths About Terminating Parental Rights?
As many child custody lawyers find, parents who initially want to terminate parental rights do so based on misconceptions about the legality of doing so and how it will benefit them.
It is false that non-custodial parents can voluntarily give up their parental rights as a way to walk away from owed child support, or having to pay future child support.
The idea that a parent can simply fill out a form giving up their rights and waiving their responsibilities is no longer true according to most child custody lawyers who advise that terminating those rights involves a long, expensive process where it must be proven to the court that there is some valid reason for doing so other than escaping parental responsibilities.
In addition, it is also not true that custodial parents can simply request that a non-custodial parent have their rights relinquished because they are not paying support or don’t visit with the child or stay active in their co-parenting role.
Once again, though it may seem like a good idea to the custodial parent to have full control over their child when the other parent is not fulfilling his or her part of the custody agreement, the court does not see it the same way but rather views it as a potential loss of financial support for that child when custody orders are enforced correctly.
Why Does Family Court Prefer Not to Terminate Parental Rights?
The court’s position is that terminating parental rights leaves the potential of loss of financial stability for that child, even in cases where a parent is not providing the support he or she should be.
It also relinquishes a child’s right to healthcare benefits moving forward as well as any potential inheritance later in life.
In most cases, this is why the family court prefers not to approve any petitions to terminate parental rights unless doing so is somehow in the best interest of the child.
The court instead recommends that parents use their legal rights to have financial support enforced by the court, rather than attempt to terminate the other parent’s rights.
Yet if there are circumstances where it is perceived that a child may be somehow endangered or that terminating parental rights would be in the child's best interest, requests may be approved.
Talk To A Child Custody Lawyer
Although it may seem that cutting off a non-supportive parent or relinquishing parental rights would be beneficial in some situations, child custody lawyers must stress that in most cases, the family court will not agree.
Usually both today and in the future, it’s in the child’s best interest to have two parents with parental rights as opposed to just one.
Any parent who is dealing with questionable circumstances where possibly terminating parental rights or enforcing child support needs to be done, he or she should discuss the situation with their lawyer before attempting to petition the court to terminate any parental rights.