Signing Over Parental Rights

by Wendy from Cape Coral, Florida, Lee County

Does my ex husband have to pay child support if he signs over his rights?

I don't care if he does.

I just want him out of our lives.

Or can I get his rights taken away.

He is a horrible father and is always in contempt of the Judges orders.

Answer to Terminating Parental Rights Question

Dear Wendy,

Florida courts are reluctant to terminate parental rights for either of those reasons.

Even if your ex agreed to voluntarily terminate his parental rights, a court would be unlikely to allow it, unless a step-parent is planning to adopt the child -- (your new husband along with you).

There are many less than perfect parents, but courts have to act in the best interests of the child.

The judges usual position, in promoting two parents as a matter of public policy, is that a less than perfect parent is better than no parent.

And in the real world, children are expensive. Two parents' incomes can better support a child than one parent's income.

In order for an involuntary termination of parental rights -- there must be compelling reasons. The following is a partial list of reasons that involuntary termination of parental rights might be granted from Florida Statutes 39:

  • Abandonment or Extreme Parent Disinterest

  • Abuse/Neglect

  • Incarceration of Parent/Felony Conviction

  • Sexual Abuse

  • Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent

  • Extreme Alcohol or Drug use by Parent

  • Felony assault of child or sibling

  • Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child

You don't mention in what way your ex is in contempt of the judge's orders. There are steps you can take to enforce the orders that are in place.

Reader Comments

Biological Father Wants to Sign Over Parental Rights To Stepmother
by: Anonymous from Florida

My husband and his ex-girlfriend have shared custody of their 9-year old daughter, with my husband being the primary custodial parent, and the mother having visitation.

The mother is a recovering alcoholic and at one time had the child taken away from her by DCF for getting two DUIs in less than one week, with the child in the car both times.

We have lived together for six years and been married for almost three years and it is a volatile relationship to say the least. Two and a half years ago my husband became addicted to prescription pain pills. Since then, our life together has gone horribly sour.

We verbally fight all the time and it has physically turned violent on many occasions, with him being arrested once for domestic battery. Three weeks ago he was fired from his job and has yet to find employment - he hasn't even been looking for work. All he does now is run around with his pill-head friends and get drunk almost every day/night.

He never spends time with his daughter. Yesterday I had plans to spend the day with my grandmother - by myself. He knew I was going to be gone all day. I have a 15-year old daughter who also lives with us, and she was gone for the weekend visiting my mom.

I texted him around 5 p.m. to see what him and his daughter were doing, and he responded that he was off at a friend's house and his daughter was home alone. At that point, I called my stepdaughter to make sure she was OK.

She told me her dad had left just a few minutes after I did and had been gone all day. I then called him to see what time he was going home and he said he "didn't know, maybe 7ish." I was not going to be home until nighttime, so I called to check in with her every 30 minutes.

I tried to call and text her biological mother, who has visitation, to see if she could drive to my house and pick up the daughter, and she never responded either. I got home around 8:15 p.m. He never came home at all that night.

He has said several times before, and just 2 days ago, that he wanted to sign his parental rights over to me because I want a divorce. Will a judge allow this? Can the biological mom prevent this? The child would live with me and my daughter and would have visitation with her mom - much the way our life is now anyway.

--The scourge of drugs strikes again. This is so sad, and my heart goes out to you and your stepdaughter. I really don't see any easy way out of this. Since you and your husband are in agreement, you may be able to file for temporary custody or get a court to appoint you as legal guardian, but it is unclear to me how this would work.

My best suggestion is to get legal advice from a family law attorney in Florida and see what he or she says what options may be available to you in this situation. Try the attorney referral service we recommend. Many lawyers offer free or low cost initial consultations. --Staff

Terminating Parental Rights Form
by: Nhan from Jacksonville

Where could I get the Terminating Parental Rights form? I am looking for the forms of father relinquishing parental rights.

--The short answer is that there is no such form for relinquishing parental rights that can be used by itself. There is a consent and release of parental rights form that is used in conjunction with an adoption. See Stepparent Adoption: Consent and Waiver by Parent, Form 12.981(a)(1) for reference. This is the only voluntary way I know of to give up one's parental rights.

A court can terminate parental rights involuntarily, but they have to follow certain rules. A Petition for termination of parental rights law does exist. See Florida statutes § 39.082 for more information. --Staff

Mother Won't Allow Contact

by: BC from Virginia

My boyfriend has a son in Florida that is almost 5 years old. He hasn't seen his son since he was an infant because he violated probation for hitting his sons mom and got incarcerated for the violation.

For the last 2 years, he has made numerous attempts to be in his sons life. He has called her house, cell phone, texted her, sent letters by certified mail, etc. The mother will not respond.

Anyway, my boyfriend is now at the point where he feels like it is useless to keep trying because she won't let him. He also doesn't want to make his son feel uncomfortable by having visitation when his son doesn't know him, as it can be hard on a child.

He pays child support but she won't allow him to see their son. We know that courts are hesitant to allow a parent to sign their rights away, but in a situation like this, are they likely to allow if?

He pays support but feels like he's not allowed to be a parent to him. I know he could go through the courts to file for visitation but we live in VA. He has considered that but also feels like his son would feel awkward.

Do you think the courts would allow this? She doesn't want him in his life and he is willing to sign rights away since he doesn't get to see him anyway and they don't know each other.

--An unfortunate situation for both your boyfriend and his son. But as the biological father, your boyfriend is financially responsible for his son and only an adoption or if the mother asks for an involuntary termination of parental rights through the courts can relieve him of his financial obligations. --Staff

Signing Away Parental Rights
by: Jason

I am a disabled veteran with PTSD. My ex-wife constantly fights me to see my daughter among other things. My mental state is at risk and I am very close to my breaking point. Not to mention my daughter is caught in the middle of the fighting.

Do I have a good enough reason to sign my rights away what is your opinion?

--Probably not. Problems of this nature are very common and are likely not reasons a court will find compelling enough to involuntarily remove your parental rights. --Staff

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Page last updated 02/04/2015
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