Terminating parental rights can be very difficult to do, even voluntarily. With the termination of parental rights goes legal responsibility for a child. Read on to learn more about the situations in which courts would allow termination and its impact on child support. If you find yourself struggling with either child support or the maintenance or termination of your parental rights, we recommend reaching out to a Suffolk County child support lawyer. We have the knowledge and experience to help you in this difficult situation.
Grounds for Voluntary and Involuntary Termination
Most often, voluntary termination of parental rights occurs when a parent is trying to allow someone to adopt their child. If the child is older than 14, New York law requires the child’s input on the adoption process. Should the child wish it, courts allow children to keep a connection with their biological parents even after parental rights are terminated.
For a New York court to involuntarily terminate your parental rights, it would need to find one of the following statements is true:
- You as the parent purposely abandoned your child six or more months
- You as the parent have a severe mental disability.
- You have caused your child continuous, severe abuse; or, you have consistently neglected your child.
- After imprisonment, you refuse to take a caring role for your child.
- You were convicted of murder, attempted murder, involuntary manslaughter, assault, or aggravated assault.
Other family members, like stepparents or grandparents, who would like to have a person’s parental rights terminated, must (among other things) file a petition in court, appoint an attorney for the children, and attend the court process.
Courts value the parent/child bond quite highly, so terminating parental rights can be very difficult to do, even voluntarily. Parents’ visitation and custody rights are considered secondary to the right a child has to be supported by their parents. Therefore, it is important to point out that signing over custody rights is not the same thing as terminating parental rights. Transferring custody rights is just that, signing over primary legal and sole physical custody. Any other rights and responsibilities, including parental rights, remain in place. As such, you may even seek custody rights again in the future after giving up custody rights.
Termination of Parental Rights and Child Support
After your parental rights have been terminated, you won’t be legally obligated to pay child support, except for any outstanding child support you may have. In New York, it is possible to have your parental rights reinstated after two years, if some conditions are met, including that the child hasn’t been adopted yet.