Choosing to relinquish parental rights is an emotional ordeal. When a father realizes that he cannot physically care for his child, he may decide that giving up parental rights is the best course of action. However, giving up these rights is not as simple as walking away. A process must be followed to legally relinquish parental rights so someone else may raise the child.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
Though the process varies from state to state, in most cases it begins with paperwork. The father begins by signing a Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights consent form. This form is notarized and then filed with the court. An important note is that fathers who relinquish parental rights are still obligated to support the child even after this form has been filed. He must provide physical care if there are no other options available. If the child is in the care of the mother or another caregiver, the father must continue to provide financial support.
Attend a Court Date
After the paperwork has been received, a court date will be set. The father must appear at the court to finalize the process. The judge may or may not grant termination of parental rights. He or she will weigh whether or not the father appears to have been coaxed into signing away his parental rights, if his judgment is impaired, or if it is in the best interests of the child. During the court date, a father should be made aware of any further financial responsibilities for the child, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Educational expenses
Once the judge finalizes the termination, the father should receive a copy of the court order.
Regaining Parental Rights
A father may have a change of heart after he has terminated his rights to the child. The first step is always to hire a lawyer. He or she will guide the father through the process, but this does not mean that the father’s work is over. He must have evidence that the new living conditions for the child are not meeting his or her needs. Fathers must also compile character witnesses and reference letters from family members, friends, and co-workers to prove that they should have the control they once relinquished. The opinion of the child is also determined when weighing this decision. Fathers who have good relationships with their children are much more likely to have right restored.