Voluntary termination of parental rights is never an easy decision. Most people who make the decision to give up their rights are doing so to give their child better opportunities. Parents have an assumed right (as well as a responsibility) to have a relationship with their children and financially support those children. Whether the termination of parental rights (TPR) is voluntary or state imposed, there are strict statutory requirements that must be met.
Voluntary Termination Of Parental Rights For A Newborn
A couple expecting a baby can choose to place the child for adoption if they are unable or unwilling to raise the child. Both parents must consent to the adoption, unless the father has been uninvolved in the mother’s and child’s life for more than six months. Unmarried fathers that wish to be notified in the event that their child is placed for adoption should register with the South Carolina Responsible Father Registry. A pregnant woman choosing adoption will typically make arrangements for her child before birth, consenting to the adoption within one to two days after the child is born.
If either parent wishes to retain his or her parental rights, the child cannot be placed for adoption. However, an unmarried father does not have any legal rights to his child until paternity is established by the court. A parent that does not wish to have an active role in his child’s life can sign a relinquishment of custody form. Keep in mind that while this relinquishes your parental rights to the child, it does not absolve you of financial responsibility.
Voluntary TPR Of An Older Child
If a child is not placed for adoption at birth, it is not easy to voluntarily terminate your parental rights at a later date. Ironically, it is more difficult to voluntarily terminate your rights than it is to have them taken away. In all cases involving TPR, a judge must agree that it is in the best interest of the child that the parent’s rights be terminated. Stepparent adoptions are the most common scenario in which a parent is allowed to eschew their legal right and responsibilities to their child. In an uncontested stepparent adoption, the uninvolved parent’s rights are voluntarily terminated, and the spouse of the child’s custodial parent becomes the legal parent of the child.
Another common reason a parent may wish to forfeit their parental rights is to avoid paying child support and other financial responsibilities for the child. The child’s custodial parent may even support this decision if he or she is anxious to cut all ties with the person. Family courts do not encourage this scenario, because the child has a right to be supported by two parents whenever possible. Only in limited situations will the judge agree it is in the best interest of the child for a parent to voluntarily terminate parental rights.
Family Law Attorneys In Charleston, SC
Once your parental rights are terminated, they cannot be reinstated. If you have questions about adoption or child custody laws in South Carolina, contact the experienced family law attorneys at McCoy & Stokes, LLC.