What's the Process for Giving up Parental Rights?

Updated on May 25, 2010
B.T. asks from Benton Harbor, MI
18 answers

My friend got pregnant during a casual relationship and now finds out the little she knew about the guy was mostly untrue. She wants him to give up his parental rights and stay out of their lives. She doesn't know anything about this process. Can this be done while she's pregnant or does it have to wait until the baby is born? Is this something that requires a lawyer or not? Any info that you can give would be great!

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answers from New York on

She doesn't have to list him on the birth certificate, but if he is interested in having contact with the baby it will become a legal discussion. My understanding is that you can't do anything until after the baby is born!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

She should talk to an attorney. Unfortunately, the father will need to agree to this and do it willingly. She alone cannot make the decision, regardless of his character. Good luck!

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answers from Gainesville on

She needs to get an attorney that specializes in family law. My opinion is to do it strictly by the book because if she doesn't this guy can come back years from now and fight for custody. Granted, he'd then have to pay back child support and that usually will scare off the losers but still. She would have to wait till the baby is born because they have to establish paternity in order to terminate his parental rights. If she tries to do it on her own and just have him sign something, he can come back and say he didn't understand or he was coerced and it will wind up in court anyhow. If he has a lawyer and she has a lawyer then they are both on equal footing in the eyes of the court.

But she needs to realize that just because she wants him to stay out of their lives doesn't mean he will or even has to.

She will get the best answers for the laws in her state if she works with an attorney.

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answers from Tulsa on

He is the childs father. He has a right to know of his child, and the right to know his child. Actually, he has the obligation. If he chooses not to, then she can see about terminating his rights.
Every child has the right to know who their parents are, and to know them unless it is unsafe for the child.
Your friend should have been more careful. The fact that she wasn't does not change the above facts.

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answers from Dallas on

I don't think you have to list the father on the birth certificate. Even if you do, you don't have to give the baby his last name. The only benefit to listing the father, in my opinion, would be for any genetic reasons, or child support. But even child support can be granted through the courts and DNA testing without listing the father on the birth certificate. Good luck to your friend.

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answers from Washington DC on

I don't think that there is anything that says that you have to list the father on the birth certificate. If he wants to be in the childs' life then HE has to go through the courts and get a paternity test. Just don't list his name when the baby is born
Does he know that she is pregnant? If not, why tell him

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'm sorry that your friend finds herself in this situation. However, you should take time and develop relationships before having sex. IMO, once you have sex voluntarily with someone, you are as responsible for the repercussions as well as the other person.
You say that she wants him to give up his rights. But has she talked to HIM? What does he want? Or doesn't want?
I don't know about IA, but in TN a father could not give up parental rights unless someone else wanted to step up and adopt/become responsible financially for the child (this is from my cousins experience). Frustrating, absolutely if you have a father that wants nothing to do with the child. But this is a situation that could have been easily avoided.
As far as the birth certificate, if she knows for sure 100%, why wouldn't she list him on the birth certificate. This isn't for her. This is for her child. Doesn't the child have the right to know who the parents are? I believe so.
After all is said and done, she needs to right down her questions and concerns then meet and have an extensive conversation with her "casual" guy friend. If they can come to an agreement, they will still need to have a lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork. If they don't go ahead and do that now, it could wind up costing alot more money in the long run if one decides they want to change something, or stop visitation, or whatever. Then you have a legal battle which is more expensive.
And I would also recommend that your friend go and get some counseling. What she thinks and feels right now may not be in either her or the baby's best interests. She needs to begin doing the responsible thing for her child, not herself. She needs to request child support for this child, regardless of whether or not she believes she can support the baby, put that money into a college fund, savings account, or whatever for the baby's future.
Bottom line...I do wish your friend the best of luck as she navigates this very rocky road. I also hope that you can be a great source of support to her. The goal at this point is or should be to have a healthy, happy baby.

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answers from Rapid City on

I think it vary's state to state so she should talk with a lawyer to see what it is in her state. I know when my son wasn't married yet to his daughter's mother and he had to sign a paternity claim to get his name on the birth certificate and to give her his last name... it also was needed for him to put her on his insurance before he married her mother. I also know that my sister had a daughter out of wedlock years ago and was on state help in which the state wanted the father's name since it wasn't on the birth certificate. The state then went after the father for cost of prenatal care and the birth and child support. He was also told he could go after custody/visitation rights. I also think that it was said that he couldn't just give his rights up without having someone there to take over the care, especially if there is state help in supporting the child. The only way she will know what they can do or can't do is visit with a lawyer.



answers from Chicago on

from my experience even if you get child support ordered and he actually pays he probally wont want to do to much more than that. i was afraid to go for the child support at first didnt get it until he was 10months, but i finally did and he is court ordered to pay but still has no rights now he can get them if he so chooses but its been over 6 yrs dont think tHAT will happen any time soon so i would not put him on the birth certific but go for child support asap the rule i have always tried to go by is to do whats best i never want my child to blame me for not having a relationship with his dad he knows at this young age that if he wants to go he can,(he never wanta to go) or if his dad ever asks which is rare more like never he is free to go so in the future his dad will be responsible for having a great relationship or having a not so great relationship i know i did my best i never kept them apart



answers from Columbus on

in most states it has to be the fathers decision and he legally can have a part in the child's life if he wants. also in some states, pending dna matching, he is required to have some rights.



answers from Minneapolis on

I know you got a ton of replies, but my cousin went through this and the state will not allow a child to be fatherless. Unless she has someone to adopt her baby and be the legal parent they will not allow him to give up his rights. He is legally obligated to support the child. If she doesn't want him to be a part of the child's life she needs to see a lawyer and get papers drawn up and have him agree to it.
Not sure you really should/can but if he's that bad I'd consider putting unknown as the father on the birth certificate but then she'd have to prove the child is his later if she wants child support. Very touchy situation -- I'd check with a lawyer!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would strongly suggest speaking with a lawyer, or two. They will normally give free consultations. As you can see from the other responses, some of which are contradict others, this can be a complicated decision, as we here can only guess. The only way to be sure your friend is making the choice that is best for her and the baby is to be sure of the law in your state - the laws do vary by state. Please suggest she meet with a lawyer.


answers from Wausau on

The biological father has NO legal rights or responsibilities until his name is on the birth certificate or paternity is established by DNA testing. If she is certain she wants nothing to do with him and she knows that this would be in her baby's best interests, she should break off all ties with him now. If he wants to establish paternity later, it's his responsibility to do so UNLESS your friend applies for state assistance. If your friend pursues state assistance, the state will inquire into the identity of the biological father and try to track him down for financial support. Your friend should be prepared with answers to direct questions as to who the baby's father is IF she plans on pursuing state assistance.



answers from Anchorage on

He has to agree to it, and voluntarily sign the forms, or be proven unfit. He is the father even if she does not like him, and he has a right to his child, just as she has a right to child support. The process for all this depends on if they are one the same page or not. She can not force him to give up his rights if he does not want to, and he has every right to demand joint custody and/or visitation. They need to sit down and talk, and if an agreement can not be made, than the next step would be mediation or lawyers, but just know that once the lawyers are involved things can get very expensive, and she still can not force him to sign away his rights as the child's father.

I just wanted to add that she should consider how the child will feel in the future as well. How would she feel if she did not know her father, if she has never been given the chance to meet him? We all have a need to know where we came from, and it is almost always in the best interest of the child to have at least some contact with both parents.



answers from Salt Lake City on

My sister got pregnant with her first child. She actually gave the spern donor 2 opportunities to see the child. He didn't care. His family didn't care. She didn't list him on the birth certificate. He's 8 now and the spern donors girlfriend can't have children and found out he had a child out there somewhere. Seh convinced him to meet his child because she wanted to be a mother. My sister went to see a lawyer. She did not have to have the spern donor sign anything to terminate his rights because he never had anything to do with the child. She could have had his rights terminated a year after the child was born. I think your friend needs to get a laywer to see what her rights are. If the spern donor wants to be in that child's life, he has that right.


answers from Appleton on

It depends on the state this would happen and I suggest having a lawyer or at least consulting one. I am a single mother and my son's father pays support but has no involvement in my son's life. I have offerred him the option to sign away his rights during the pregnancy, he was denying it was his child at the time, after my son was born and recently. No amount of support is worth the pain and harm he will cause to my son by being involved as he pleases. My son is now two and his father has seen him for one day. My son has also gone through extensive surgeries and has been hospitalized at the Children's Hospital and his father was too busy fishing. I am unable to take his rights away but thankfully during the custody and placement hearing I was granted sole custody and visitation is to take place as agreed so that it does not interfere with my son's normal life and activities. Given the lack of interest in his son and his own choice, not a financial or availability issue, to be part of his son's life I have looked into dissolving his parental rights. I can not do that on my own, but I will not allow my son to go to his dad's alone for even a weekend since he is a stranger and his father does not know or care about his medical issues. Its a difficult process. Has your friend discussed dissolving parental rights with the father? How does he feel? If he is willing to do so, lawyers may not need to be involved. I would tell her to call her county child support agency and discuss with them. It is free and they can guide her in the proper action. They should be able to answer if this can be done prior to giving birth to the child. I moved while pregnant because I was told that the baby was not a person until born therefore there were no legal issues with doing so prior to the birth. Good luck and let me know if you have more questions, I would be glad to share what I can. What state is she in? Wisconsin has online resources she can research as well. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

What others have said is true: If she doesn't list him on the birth certificate, he will have to pursue her, and have the paternity testing done on his dime, and it will still need to be brought to court. He does not have any "parental rights" until a judge orders it in cases like this. It is a long, expensive process.

If she is getting any state aid, however, they will pursue him. And if the state is involved, and he wants to be in his child's life, there's not a whole lot that she can do to stop it because the courts assume that it is in the best interest of the child to have the mother AND father to support and raise the child. She should expect the whole process to take 6 months to a year.

Even if both parties agree that they want to have his parental rights terminated, a judge is VERY unlikely to agree to it, unless she has another man lined up to adopt the baby.

If she is Not getting state aid, and he pursues her, at that point she will need to get an attorney to help her through the process.

I recommend doing some more research on this man. See if he has a criminal record, find out who his family is, and do some research on them. My son's father is not in his life because he doesn't want to be....but if this man wants to be a father, she should absolutely give him the chance. I still cry sometimes over the fact that my son doesn't have a dad and I feel horribly sad for him and I feel very guilty that I didn't find a better man. He didn't do anything wrong, but for his whole life he will wonder "what is wrong with me?" "why didn't my dad love me?" A good dad is really the best thing in the world for a little boy. For sons without a dad, the rates of mental illness and aggression and criminal activity go WAY up. If she has a girl, she may think it wont matter much to not have a father, but there are many consequences for girls, too. Take a look at these sites on fatherless men and women:



answers from Nashville on

She should definitely get a lawyer to help protect her rights and the baby's rights.

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