The procedures to terminate parental rights in Ohio depend on whether the parent agrees or opposes the termination. A mother or father may decide to voluntarily give up parental rights to an agency or through consent to the child's adoption as required by Ohio law. Under some circumstances, such as abandonment, the state may also file a motion to involuntarily terminate a parent's rights. Parents may wish to consult with an Ohio attorney regarding their rights under state law.
In most cases, the state adoption or child welfare agency files the motion to terminate parental rights.
Voluntary Termination of Rights
Ohio law permits a parent to voluntarily give up custodial rights under specific circumstances. A parent may choose to surrender a child to the custody of an adoption agency. The agency, rather than the parent, files the required paperwork with the Ohio juvenile court to request judicial approval of the surrender; the court may only approve the surrender if the judge believes that the surrender serves the child's best interests. If the agency has already arranged the child's adoption and the child is younger than 6 years of age, the agency does not need prior approval from the juvenile court; the agency must, however, notify the juvenile court within two days of the adoption placement.
Consent to Child's Adoption
A parent may also choose to terminate custody rights by giving adoption consent rather than by surrendering the child to an agency. In these situations, the adoptive parents file an adoption petition for review by the Ohio probate court. The adoptive parents' paperwork must include a written consent signed by the birth parent. Each parent with legal rights to the child must provide a signed consent, unless a state court has already terminated the parent's rights in court proceedings or the adoptive parents can show that they do not need consent. For example, the adoption may proceed without parental consent if the petition can establish any of the grounds in Ohio law; these grounds include the parent's absence and lack of support for the child for one year or longer.
Involuntary Termination of Rights
Ohio law also provides for an involuntary termination of rights that does not require the parent's surrender or consent. The state's child welfare agency may file the paperwork to permanently terminate a parent's rights due to a variety of reasons, including child neglect, child abuse or child dependency. After the agency files the motion, the Ohio juvenile court decides whether to grant the motion. If the juvenile court terminates the parent's custodial rights, the child may live with a foster family or proceed to an adoption placement.
Signing Away Right to Avoid Paying Child Support
In Ohio, the payment of child support is a legal obligation. You cannot voluntarily sign away your parental rights in order to avoid paying child support. If you wish to walk away from your right to see your child, then a court may agree to this if it is in the child's best interest. However, this will not relieve you of your obligation to support the child.
Notice to Ohio Parents
When an Ohio court receives a request to terminate a parent's rights, state law determines who, if anyone, has a right to receive notice of the motion and related court proceedings. For an adoption petition, the petition may proceed with only one birth parent's consent if the petitioners can prove that state law permits them to move forward without the other birth parent's consent. Ohio fathers, in particular, should understand state laws regarding notice of court proceedings to terminate their parental rights. To assert his parental rights, a man who is not the child's legal father through marriage to the child's mother may need to register with the Ohio Putative Father Registry.