How to Sign Away Rights to a Child in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, one or both parents must terminate parental rights before anyone can adopt a child. This often presents a problem when a stepparent wants to adopt a child because the noncustodial parent must first terminate rights before the adoption can be finalized. Pennsylvania law requires both parents to attend a hearing before either parent can voluntarily relinquish rights over the child.

Obtain and complete a petition for voluntary relinquishment from the family court in the county where the child resides. Provide your name and current address, and the child’s name, address and age.

Sign the petition before a notary. The notary will stamp the petition to confirm witnessing your signature.

File the petition at the courthouse. The clerk will schedule a hearing at least 10 business days after the filing date. The clerk must provide you a copy of the notice scheduling the hearing and mail a copy to the other parent’s last-known address.

Attend the hearing on the scheduled date and time. You may hire an attorney to represent you, if you wish. You or your attorney will answer any questions the judge has about the reasons you wish to terminate your parental rights. If the judge determines your petition is indeed voluntary and that you understand the meaning of your action, he will grant your petition.

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