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Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Although parental rights are frequently terminated involuntarily, whether due to abuse, neglect, or some other cause, it is possible for a parent to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights.  When one parent has had infrequent contact with the child and/or the biological parent believes that the child’s best interest would be served by the child legalizing parental status with another person, it is possible for the biological parent to terminate his or her parental rights.

Typically, a voluntary termination of parental rights, as with involuntary termination of parental rights, is done as a prerequisite to an adoption or during dependency cases.  A parent might choose to terminate his or her parental rights if they wish for a child to be adopted into another family or by a stepparent, for example.  The parent might have any number of reasons for doing so.  For example, the parent may feel unable to properly care for the child, may not have been ready or willing to be a parent, or may recognize that his or her drug or alcohol issues endanger the child.

A voluntary termination of parental rights can be accomplished by petitioning the Court to terminate that parent’s rights.  Both parents, and anyone else who has custody rights to the child, must be notified and have the opportunity to be involved in the process.  The Court will require the relinquishing parent to sign off on the termination and to verify that they understand what they are asking the Court to do.  Typically, the termination of parental rights will occur during an adoption proceeding.  It is rare for the Court to terminate a parent’s rights if there is not another parent waiting to step up and fill that parental role by adopting the child, although it is possible in some circumstances (generally in dependency cases, i.e. cases involving Children and Youth Services and allegations of neglect or abuse).

If you are interested in learning more about voluntary termination of parental rights, contact Tanner Law Offices at 717-836-0471 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.