Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

by Myrna from Lakeland, Florida, Polk County

Can a child's last name be changed after termination of parental rights?

If a parent gives up their rights to a child in a Florida court of law, could the child's last name be changed as well removing his father's last name from the birth certificate?

Answer to Florida Family Law Question

Dear Myrna,

In Florida a parent is usually not allowed to voluntarily terminate parental rights unless there is a pending adoption.

If the parents are giving up parental rights and placing the child with an adoption agency.

When the child is adopted the name change is part of the adoption process.

If, one of the parents is voluntarily terminating parental rights in a step-parent adoption; the name change is also part of the adoption process.

In both of these situations a new birth certificate is issued; and the adoption records are sealed.

Florida's Department of Health website, www.doh.state.fl.us has the following information posted on their site:

Adoption Procedures
If an adoption has occurred, the clerk of the court will forward to our office a report of the adoption within thirty days of the order. Based on this document, a new birth record will be filed for the child.

If adopted in Florida but born in another state, the report of adoption received from the clerk of the court will be forwarded to the child's state of birth. Contact the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the child's state of birth regarding their requirements in this matter.

Reader Comments

Terminating Parental Rights Question
by Vanessa from Florida

How would the process be if one parent is voluntarily giving up parental rights to the other parent after a divorce?

--As far as I know, it doesn't work that way in Florida. The only time a parent may voluntarily terminate parental rights is if there is an adoption pending. Many parents constructively terminate parental rights through their own actions. No one can force someone to have a relationship with their child.

The courts can order visitation, but forcing someone to visit their child and be involved in their child's life, is probably impossible. Most parents who ask this question are really asking if they can terminate parental rights so that they do not have to pay child support.

And the answer to that is no. A parent can decide that he doesn't want anything to do with a child, never see the child again, but he or she still must pay support. The state of Florida's position on this is simple enough to understand. If the parents are not held accountable for the financial support of their children, then that financial support must be paid by the taxpayers. --Staff

Unwed Parents Termination of Father's Rights
by: Megan from Miami, Florida

My child's father and I were never married. He left me after I got pregnant and did not show up again until 3 months after our child was born (and only because I made it a point for my child to have a relationship with his father). My child will be 2 this week and his father has seen him a total of 4 times. He does not pay child support, does not help with bills, I have not received a dime from him for the sake of our child.

Recently, his new girlfriend has been stalking me. I am afraid for my life and my child's life and believe that the only way to change this is to have his rights terminated. If I pass away, my child will go to his father. He is irresponsible, unemployed, mentally unstable and does not care about this child, yet he refuses to sign termination papers. What do I do?

--As far as I know, a procedure to terminate parental rights is only done by the state except in cases of adoption.

See Chapter 39 part X of the Florida Statutes for more information. --Staff

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Page last updated 03/22/2015
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