This is the next post in my series on the voluntary termination of parental rights in Melbourne and other Florida areas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the importance of speaking with a family law attorney if you are considering giving up your status as a parent. It is important that you speak with counsel as the process is typically irreversible. In this article I will discuss the process involved in voluntarily surrendering your status as a parent. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
There are typically two primary reasons why parents choose to voluntarily give up their parental rights. Florida is different from some other states, however, in that only one of these situations will allow for a voluntary termination. The circumstances under which a parental termination will be permitted include situations in which one parent (typically the father) is not involved in the youth’s life and the mother is involved in a new relationship. The mother wishes for their new spouse to adopt the child. The second situation, for which our state will not allow a voluntary termination, involves a parent who has been absent from the child’s life for a significant period and they wish to no longer pay child support. In such a situation, the parent who is caring for the child will often wish to agree to such an arrangement. Florida, however, will not allow such a termination due to the fact that our state does not wish to risk having to support a child through social programs when there would be no parent obligated to pay child support.
The process typically followed in a permitted voluntary termination is relatively straightforward. If the parents are agreeing to the termination for the purposes of an adoption, then the termination and the adoption can typically be handled in one proceeding and will involve the surrendering parent to sign a “written surrender.” This surrender can be presented at the adoption proceeding. The Court will then go forward with the adoption process and grant an order stating that the adoptive parent now has legal rights involving the child. If it has been agreed that the surrendering parent will owe no child support arrears, then such will also be stated in the Court’s order.
Before the two sides agree to a voluntary termination, it is important to understand the legal impact of such a choice. First, the party surrendering their rights will no longer be considered a parent in the eyes of the law. This means that they will have no right to see the child, to have input regarding decisions, etc. This also means, however, that they will no longer be required to pay child support, to help with health insurance, etc. Second, any child support arrearages do not simply “go away” as the result of a termination. In a typical arrangement, the parent receiving full rights to the child will agree to waive any arrearages in exchange for the other side’s cooperation. If there is no such agreement, however, the arrearages will remain in effect.
The decision as to whether or not one should voluntarily terminate their parental rights is a serious one. It will have lasting repercussions and the decision should be discussed with an attorney. I am a Melbourne parental termination lawyer who understands the serious consequences of such decisions. I will make sure you understand all aspects of your situation and will assist you should you wish to move forward. Contact my office online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation. We also service clients in the Brevard County cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.