Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights

by Jessica from Orlando, Florida, Orange County

What forms do I need for voluntary termination of parental rights?

I have an 8yr old daughter whom I have been taking care of and supporting for since she was born.

Her father left us when she was about 3 months old and has not been back since.

He is however on the birth certificate so she has his last name. I recently came in contact with him and he has agreed to grant sole custody of our daughter to me and terminate his parental rights.

We were never married, so we wanted to know what forms do I need for him to sign so I can submit them to the court. I live in Orlando and he lives in Miami.

Answer to Florida Family Law Question

Dear Jessica,

Florida judges do not grant a voluntary termination of parental rights unless there are extreme circumstances or there is someone in the wings ready to adopt.

The extreme circumstances can be if the parent is in prison for a long time; is a habitual offender; or is addicted to an illegal substance or alcohol.

Someday you might want to collect child support from your ex to help you support your daughter.

It is an easy way out for him to simply terminate his parental rights, and be on his way.

For all practical purposes you already have sole custody.

And if your ex has not asserted his parental rights he likely has very few anyway.

It is not up to him to agree to grant sole custody to you; or to terminate his parental rights.

Reader Comments

Voluntarily Terminating Parental Rights in Florida
by: Ashley from Maryland

My fiance signed away his parental rights at the request of his ex wife. He pays child support monthly and on time. I read on here that Florida does not terminate child parental rights unless an adoption is occurring or the other parent is unfit.

Neither is the case with my fiance. My question is how legal is this termination and what documents should he have stating the termination of parental rights?

My fiance is a hard working good man. He has never been in serious trouble. He pays child support monthly and on time. He has made arrangements to pay arrears in child support. He was asked by his ex wife to sign over parental rights to their child. He did so with no contest.

It is my understanding that Florida family court does not terminate parental rights with out just cause. It is my understanding that volunteering to terminate rights is not necessarily going to grant you termination of child support is that true?

--You are correct. In general, in Florida, parents cannot voluntarily terminate parental rights unless there is a pending adoption. A parent can request that the court grant sole custody, but Florida courts have a strong bias toward shared parental responsibility. It may be that he has every right to visit his child, and has simply been duped by his ex wife.

My suggestion is that, if he wants to see his child, he petition the court for visitation. He may as well, since he is paying support. Terminating a child support obligation is nearly impossible, unless the child is adopted by someone.

For example, if his ex wife remarries, and her new husband wants to adopt the child; and your husband consents, then he can voluntarily terminate parental rights. And, in that case, his child support obligation would end. --Staff

Terminating Parental Rights
by: Teresa from Venice, Florida

My husband has a child from a previous relationship that he received full custody of in 2009. He is defiant, does drugs, stole things from family members and classmates. He molested my 4yo son when he was 3. He went to the grandparents to stay and we just recently pressed charges.

Since he has been at the Grandparent's house, he has stolen from them, got a referral from school and has been suspended for 5 days. All within 2 months. The Grandparents do not want to take custody or guardianship. The boys counselor said it wouldn't be a good idea for them to take that responsibility. (Why I don't know!) They forced my husband to not press charges when this all happened in December though we went and did it recently.

The boys bio-mom is not in the picture at all. She has not even started her case plan, (the one from 2009 when the kids were taken) and she has 0 custody but she has rights. We are in a bind. The Grandparents are saying that we are taking him back in our home. That is NOT an option.

I have 3 children ages 10 and under and will have them live like that. Besides what he had done to my son, he was constantly telling me he wished I would leave and die and a lot of other things as well. If my husband terminates his rights, will the state charge him for abandonment AND is it even possible to terminate rights if the CHILD is the abuser?

--OMG What a sad story. I really feel for you and your family. It sounds to me that your are doing everything you can already. Pressing charges and getting DCF involved would be my recommendations, but you are already doing that.

The short answer to your main question is that your husband cannot simply terminate his rights voluntarily. He will probably need to have DCF do that for him and have the child deemed a ward of the state. --Staff

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