Perhaps you've discovered that you're not the biological father of the child you're raising, or perhaps you're in no place to pay child support. Whatever the situation, it is sometimes possible to terminate your parental rights. Texas courts don't make this easy, however, since you're giving up the fundamental right to see, raise and care for your child.
Involuntary Versus Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
There are two ways to relinquish your parental rights in the state of Texas. A voluntary termination occurs when you request the termination, appear in court to explain your decision and sign paperwork giving up your parental rights forever. You'd request a voluntary termination if, for example, your relationship with the child and his mother has fundamentally broken down or you're placing the child for adoption. Involuntary termination occurs when the state removes a child from his parent's care. A variety of harmful and neglectful behaviors result in an involuntary termination, such as abuse, neglect and abandonment.
Giving Up Parental Rights in Texas
You'll kick things off by filing a petition in the district court where the child lives. The clerk's office can provide the relevant forms and give you details of the filing fee. The clerk can also tell you how to serve the petition, which usually involves delivering the papers in person to the child's mother or legal guardian. If the child's mother agrees that you should give up your parental rights, one option is to sign an "affidavit of voluntary relinquishment" of parental rights. However, even if everyone agrees to a waiver of parental rights, nothing will happen unless a judge decides that it's the right thing to do.
The Best Interest of the Child
Parental rights can be terminated only through a court order. Family court judges take the relinquishing of parental rights very seriously, and you'll always have to explain your situation to a judge. While you may have strong feelings about why you should leave your child's life, the judge is interested in only one thing: the best interest of the child. So, you'll need some clear and convincing evidence to show that your decision to give up your parental rights is the right one. The judge will look at various factors including your relationship with the child, the stability of your home or job, your parenting abilities, the child's emotional and physical needs, and the wishes of the child.
Does Signing Over Parental Rights Stop Child Support?
Terminating your parental rights ends the legal relationship between you and your child. That means you no longer have the right to see, raise or care for your child, and can no longer make decisions about your child's upbringing or education. If your rights are terminated, then your responsibilities are terminated, too. So, you'll no longer have any child support obligations. If signing over parental rights in Texas is financially motivated, however, the courts will look at modifying the child support payments before taking the extreme measure of terminating your parental rights. Unless the child's in danger or someone is waiting in the wings to adopt the child, then the court would prefer not to terminate your parental rights at all.
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