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Can I Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights? I Owe Child Support

What Does it Mean to Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights?

Terminating parental rights is a legal process that permanently severs the legal relationship between a parent and their child. This means the parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities towards the child, including the right to make decisions about their upbringing, education, or medical care. Additionally, the parent will no longer have the right to visitation or custody.

From time to time, we have cases where a parent wants to voluntarily terminate parental rights because they are behind on child support. It’s important to understand that while terminating parental rights will end child support obligations, it will not erase any debt or past-due child support that are already owed.

In this article, our Fort Worth family law attorneys explain the voluntary termination of parental rights in Texas, including answering some frequently asked questions about this process which can have lasting implications that should be carefully considered.

Can I Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights? I Owe Child Support

Can You Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights in Texas?

In Texas, a parent can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, but this process is not as simple as just signing a form. The Texas Family Code requires that certain conditions be met before a court will consider accepting a voluntary termination of parental rights.

Requirements to Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights in Texas

A petition must be filed with the court

The parent seeking to relinquish their rights must file a petition in the appropriate court, explaining the reasons for the request and demonstrating that it is in the child’s best interest.

Best interest of the child

The court must find that the termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest. This may involve considering factors such as the child’s emotional and physical well-being, the parent’s ability to provide care and support, and the stability of the child’s current living situation.

Adoption

In many cases, voluntary termination of parental rights in Texas is only granted if a prospective adoptive parent is willing to assume the relinquishing parent’s legal responsibilities.

Parental consent

Both parents must consent to the termination unless the other parent’s rights have already been terminated or the court has determined that the other parent’s consent is not necessary.

What Happens When You Sign Over Parental Rights in Texas?

When a parent’s rights are terminated, they lose all legal rights and responsibilities towards the child. This means they are no longer responsible for child support, and they cannot make decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, or medical care.

However, it is important to understand that terminating parental rights does not erase any past-due child support owed by the parent. The debt remains, and the parent is still responsible for paying it off.

Can I Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights If I Owe Child Support in Texas?

Again, while it is possible to voluntarily terminate parental rights in Texas, doing so will not eliminate any child support obligations that are already owed. Texas law views child support as a right of the child, not the parent. Therefore, even if a parent relinquishes their rights, they are still required to fulfill their financial obligations toward the child, including any past-due child support.

How Do I Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights in Texas?

If you are considering voluntarily relinquishing your parental rights in Texas, it is crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can explain the implications and guide you through the process. The team at Varghese Summersett is well-versed in Texas family law and can help you navigate this complex legal matter.

Potential Consequences of Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Before deciding to voluntarily terminate parental rights, it’s essential to be aware of the potential consequences this decision may have on you and your child including:

Emotional Impact on the Child

Terminating parental rights can significantly impact the child, especially if they have a strong bond with the relinquishing parent. The child may feel abandoned or rejected, which could lead to long-term emotional and psychological issues.

Loss of Inheritance Rights

When a parent’s rights are terminated, the child loses their right to inherit from that parent under Texas law. This could impact the child’s financial security in the future.

Limited Options for Re-establishing Parental Rights

Once parental rights have been terminated, it can be challenging to re-establish them. In some cases, it may be impossible. It’s important to carefully consider this permanent decision and its implications for your relationship with your child.

Alternatives to Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

If you’re struggling with child support obligations or other parental responsibilities, exploring alternatives to terminating your parental rights is essential. Some options include:

Modification of child support

If your financial circumstances have changed significantly, you may be able to request a modification of your child support order, which could result in a more manageable payment amount.

Parenting plan modifications

If your current parenting plan or custody arrangement is causing difficulties, you may be able to request a modification to better accommodate your needs and those of your child.

Mediation or counseling

If you’re experiencing conflict with the other parent, mediation or counseling may help resolve issues and improve communication.

Seek Legal Guidance from Varghese Summersett

Terminating parental rights is a complex and serious legal matter with lasting consequences. If you’re considering voluntary termination of your parental rights or seeking alternatives, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced family law attorney. We can help.

Call Varghese Summersett today at 817-900-3220 or contact us online to discuss your case and explore your options with our skilled legal team.

FAQ: Relinquishing Parental Rights and Child Support in Texas

As family law attorneys at Varghese Summersett, we encounter clients who have questions about the voluntary termination of parental rights and child support obligations in Texas. To help clarify some of the complexities, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

Can I voluntarily terminate parental rights to avoid paying child support in Texas?

No. In Texas, relinquishing parental rights does not automatically exempt a parent from their child support obligations. The court’s primary concern is the child’s best interest, and financial support from both parents is considered essential for the child’s well-being.

Under what circumstances can I relinquish my parental rights in Texas?

In Texas, a parent can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights only if:

  • There is another person (such as a stepparent) willing to adopt the child, and the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest for the adoption to proceed; or

  • The court finds that the parent has abused or neglected the child, and terminating parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

How does the process of relinquishing parental rights work in Texas?

The process of relinquishing parental rights in Texas typically involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with our family law attorneys to determine if you have grounds to relinquish your parental rights.

  2. If you have grounds, your attorney will help you draft an affidavit voluntarily relinquishing your rights.

  3. The affidavit must be signed before a notary public and filed with the court.

  4. The court will review the affidavit and hold a hearing to determine whether relinquishing parental rights is in the child’s best interest..
Can I change my mind after relinquishing my parental rights?

In most cases, once you have relinquished your parental rights, the decision is permanent and cannot be reversed. However, there are limited circumstances in which a court may consider reinstating parental rights, such as if the termination was based on fraud or duress.

If I relinquish my parental rights, am I still responsible for past-due child support?

Yes. Even if you successfully relinquish your parental rights, you are still responsible for any child support arrears that have accrued prior to the termination of your rights. The court may enforce payment through wage garnishment, tax refund interception, and other means.

Will my child’s other parent still be required to pay child support if I relinquish my parental rights?

Yes. The child’s other parent will still be responsible for providing financial support for the child, even if one parent has relinquished their rights.

Can I still visit or communicate with my child after relinquishing my parental rights?

Once you have relinquished your parental rights, you no longer have any legal rights to visitation or communication with the child. However, if the child’s other parent or adoptive parent is amenable to maintaining contact, you may be able to establish a relationship with the child on an informal basis.

Can a parent be forced to relinquish their parental rights if they owe child support?

In some cases, the court may involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights if they have consistently failed to pay child support and meet other criteria for termination. This can include abandonment, neglect or abuse. However, involuntary termination is a drastic action and is only taken if the court believes it is in the child’s best interest.

Understanding the implications of relinquishing parental rights and child support obligations in Texas can be complex. If you are considering this option, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can help you navigate the process. At Varghese Summersett, our experienced attorneys can provide guidance and support during this challenging time. Call us today at 817-900-3220 or contact us online to schedule a consultation

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