The laws of all states include provisions that permit a birth father to voluntarily sign over his parental rights in very specific circumstances. Applicable statutes dictate both the circumstances in which a surrender of parental rights is permissible as well as the procedures that must be used to accomplish that objective, according to Adoption.org.
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Laws that allow a father to sign over his parental rights typically are designed to permit the child to become available for adoption. The voluntary surrender of parental rights by a father allows for an adoption to proceed without the need for additional legal action to sever that man's relationship with a child, according to the University of New Mexico Judicial Education Center.
In most cases, a father is permitted to voluntarily sign over his parental rights only as part of adoption proceedings, according to the JEC's Child Welfare Handbook. Public policy in all U.S. states establishes the responsibility of a father to financially support his child. He cannot evade that obligation by relinquishing his parental rights unless there is someone else available to assume the responsibility through adoption.
Similar laws in all states exist regarding the manner in which a relinquishment of parental rights is executed by the father. Typically, the relinquishment document must be signed by the father in front of two witnesses. Additionally, the relinquishment instrument must be notarized.
States laws vary on waiting periods from the birth of a child until the time parents can sign a document relinquishing parental rights. All states impose a waiting period for a birth mother, recognizing the emotions associated with giving birth. Some states include a waiting period following the birth of a child for a father was well. Waiting periods extend for a matter of 12 hours to a few days in most cases.
A father's decision to surrender parental rights is one of the most serious decisions a man can make during the course of a lifetime. Therefore, if you find yourself in such a position, consider seriously retaining the services of legal counsel. Local and state bar associations maintain directories of services in different practice areas. Contact information for these organizations is available through the American Bar Association. You can find a link to state and local bar associations in the Resources section.