The Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis

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Can I sign away my rights to my child?

I am asked the question, “can I sign away my rights to my child” rather often, whether it be asked by the father or the mother of a child. Here’s an example of what I see in my practice: You were in a relationship where a child was conceived and you have been established to be the father. As the father, you are obligated to pay child support. You and the child’s mother do not get along well and often argue about visitation. As a result, you do not spend time with the child. You do not have a relationship with the child. You find the situation so completely aggravating that do not want to be a part of the child’s life. Can you sign away your legal right to the child? Will this remove your obligation to pay child support?

The short answer is “no.” Generally speaking, you cannot simply relinquish, or “sign away,” your paternity (or maternity) of a child. If you have been established the child’s legal parent (which is a question in and of itself that you should address with an attorney), you are obligated to that child. You must pay child support. If you choose not to have a relationship with the child, that is your option. However, you remain obligated to pay child support because the child is entitled to be financially supported by both parents.

The better option in a case like this is to seek, establish and enforce visitation. You are the child’s parent and you have a right to see the child. You do not have to be “friends” with the other parent. You do need a working parental relationship with that person. Establishing visitation will set the ground rules and put you on a better path to that relationship.

There are some circumstances where you may be able to relinquish the legal right to a child. You may do this by giving the child up for third party adoption. You may do this by relinquishing your legal right and allowing the other parent’s spouse or significant other to then become the legal parent of the child (by adoption).

Before you make any decisions, discuss your case with a legal professional. There are many different scenarios and the details of your situation may make your case unique.   Giving up your rights to the child is a big decision.  As frustrating as the situation may seen right now, there are some options that can help you decide the right course of action for yourself and the child.  Give us a call and we will be glad to help you decide what to do in your case.

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