Giving Up Parental Rights

Giving up Parental Rights: What it Means to You

You are most likely to hear about giving up parental rights when it comes to males who have had children outside of the traditional marital situation.  For some men, this may seem like a good way to get out of the financial burden of having to pay child support.  For some mothers this may seem like a good way of keeping the biological father out of her parental sphere.  Before one takes this step on either side, however, one should consult a qualified attorney to find out the full implications of waving up parental rights in your particular jurisdiction, as family law varies from state to state.

Financial Implications for the Male

Giving up parental rights can have financial implications.  In most states when a biological father gives up “parental rights”, he becomes officially alienated from his child.  That is, as far as the state is concerned he has no more claims on his child than any stranger off the street does.  In some cases, the mother may want this so that her new husband can adopt the child as his own.

However, the father should be aware of the complications involved in this situation.  First, the father should make sure that this really is “giving up parental rights” fully and not just giving up the rights of visitation.  Sometimes, savvy marriage lawyers will discuss “giving up parental rights” when what they really mean is agreeing to limiting paternal rights, except when it comes to financial support.  Such agreements amount to placing the male in the situation of becoming a silent partner in the child’s life without having a say as to the child’s upraising.

A further consideration should be whether it is common practice for the state to re-impose financial obligations in the case of the mother’s inability to take care of the child.  In some states, it is in a judge’s discretion to re-impose the financial burden should the mother become destitute or unable to pay fully for the child.

Implications for the Mother

The mother too should be aware of the implications of having the father give up parental rights.  Although it may feel like the right course of action in the initial stages of parenthood, young mothers may come to regret their decision in the long run as the financial burdens of being a parent mount.  Restoring the father’s financial responsibilities at a future date may not prove possible, so a mother should consult with an attorney of her own and with trusted family counselors who may help her fully to understand the implications of her actions.

Giving Up Parental Rights for Adoption

If young parents decided to give up their child for adoption, waving parental rights is the first step towards preparing the way for this situation.  Parents should be aware, however, that up until they have waved their parental rights, they still have a say in what happens to their children.  In many cases, young parents who choose to give away their child for adoption may even choose the new parents for their child.  This can be a painful, difficult process but may ultimately be the most rewarding in the long run as it allows the young parents to have some say in what kind of life their child will lead.  In addition, in some types of adoption, called open adoption, the adopting parents may even agree to continue having the biological mother (and sometimes father) continue to be involved in the child’s life.  In such agreements, parental rights devolve onto the adopting parents, but the birth and adoptive parents make a formal agreement where the biological parent(s) may visit regularly.  The biological parent should be aware, however, that even in open adoption they will no longer have rights over the child and that should the adopting parents move or change their minds, the biological parent would not, in most instances, have much say in the welfare of the child.