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What Is Involved in Signing over Parental Rights?

Autumn Rivers
By
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Navigating the complex decision of how to sign over your parental rights as a mother is a legal process that is not taken lightly by the courts. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, voluntary termination of parental rights is generally only approved if it serves the child's best interests, such as when there is an adoption plan in place. According to a report by the University of Texas at Austin, less than 1% of all children in foster care had parents who voluntarily relinquished their rights. For mothers considering this step, it involves submitting a formal petition and undergoing a judicial hearing where the implications of surrendering parental rights are thoroughly examined. This process ensures that mothers are fully informed of the gravity of their decision, reflecting the seriousness with which the legal system treats parental responsibilities and the welfare of children.

The first step to signing over parental rights is typically to fill out a petition for termination of parental rights. This requires the parent to fill out the name, age, and address of the child, as well as the same information for the parents or legal guardian of the child. If this information is unknown, the parent must explain why that is. Additionally, the parent needs to explain why he or she wants to terminate these rights, and then sign the form.

In most cases, the parent needs a good reason for signing over parental rights, as it is considered a serious event that judges do not tend to grant often. The most common reason to voluntarily sign over rights is for an adoption to take place, usually by the custodial parent's new spouse. In order for the new husband or wife to adopt the child, the absent parent must sign over the rights voluntarily. Since this process is usually completed for the good of the child, it is usually granted by a judge. On the other hand, in cases of irreconcilable differences with the other parent, or when a parent is trying to get out of paying child support, a judge will not usually grant approval since neither situation is typically in the child's best interest.

Once the application to terminate parental rights has been filed, there is usually a hearing so that a judge can make a decision. In most cases, the judge will carefully explain to the parent the consequences of signing over his or her parental rights. For example, the rights to visitation, tax cuts, and making decisions that will affect the child are all relinquished. In general, most courts rarely grant this request, as there are few good reasons for voluntarily relinquishing parental rights.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Autumn Rivers
By Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for MyLawQuestions, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon1006568 — On Apr 05, 2022

@ANON327494:

I feel the exact same way. The kids can contact me when they are older and in the mean time i will put all their child support money into a separate account. Maybe they can use it for college money. Who knows?

By anon1002929 — On Mar 23, 2020

I currently have temporary custody of my niece and nephew. My step sister is in jail and can't take care of them. My nephew was 2 and a half months when we got him and he's almost 5 months now. She's supposed to get out of jail soon, but I'm afraid for these kids to go back to her because she doesn't take care of them. So I was wondering how I could get her to sign off all rights to the kids. All I want is what's best for them.

By anon1002113 — On Sep 09, 2019

What are the steps in Michigan to sign over parental rights?

By anon996155 — On Jul 17, 2016

The grandmother of my daughter who is 5 years old is saying the mother of our daughter signed over her rights to her when the mother and I have custody. Can the mother do that without me knowing? If the mother signs off. her rights would come to me right? Can anyone out there help me out with this and give me some answers?

By anon938435 — On Mar 09, 2014

I have a two year old daughter. I gave birth to her and when she was six weeks of age her father asked to see her. I was bottle feeding, and he is a responsible person so I allowed it. He then took off with her and I did not see her until she was a year old.

I had custody for about three months, but she was just miserable. She hated being with me, so we went back to court and got shared custody, and she is so much happier with her dad.

I have a son who is older and has been with me since day one, and has never been out of my sight and we are very bonded. But my daughter hates being with me. She cries the moment she sees me, she hits me and tells me to go away, she tells me "this isn't home" when she is at my place. I have tried everything. I never had this problem with my son.

It has come to the point I just want to sign my rights away and let her live happily with him. Her dad is a great father, but we do not get along. He has done mean things to me, but never my son and I could never imagine him ever being mean to his own daughter. She loves him so much and he has wanted kids forever. He is quite a bit older than I am.

I am at a loss. It has been a year and things have not gotten better, only worse. I really believe she would be happier if I were not in the picture at all. I do love her but she is very stressful to me. I am married and with another kid on the way I just don't think we can handle her outbursts anymore. She is very cruel to my son as well, and she is only 2! But she is so sweet with her dad. As soon as she sees him she runs and screams “Daddy!” and giggles. I am at a loss.

By anon357355 — On Dec 03, 2013

I'm going through this whole thing right now. My ex husband hasn't seen my kids in 3.5 years. He came to me and demanded to see them or not pay child support. The judge took his rights until he could pass a hair test at my expense. He never showed, so it was considered dirty. He has signed the rights over and my husband now is adopting our kids. In the state of Illinois, if you want to sign rights away, there has to be someone willing to adopt.

By anon350732 — On Oct 07, 2013

What is the law in Alberta concerning a mother signing over her parental rites to the biological father? Can this be done with a judge's approval?

The father wants full custody of the child. Is it possible for him to obtain full custody of the child without the mother relinquishing her parental rites?

By anon346709 — On Aug 30, 2013

Can I get sole custody of my child without a divorce? It's complicated but the father has agreed to give sole custody. We are working on getting back together, but I'm afraid if later he chooses to leave, he will take her.

By pidera — On Aug 23, 2013

So I'm in the midst of a dilemma. I had an emergency protection order, placed against me for a year by my pregnant girlfriend. It was placed because she lied to a judge.

I've been dealing with her since she broke up with me over something stupid, then when I had the good grace to let her move in with me, She had another guy over and fooled around with him in a room adjacent to mine, so naturally I heard to whole thing. At every turn this woman has been a nightmare, I'm debating signing rights away to just end the war.

On top of this, all she has admitted to a couple of my friends that she has cheated and it is not mine.

See the complexity of the situation? Can anyone share some opinions? I need some fresh eyes.

By anon342745 — On Jul 23, 2013

My mother and I do not talk and I do not live with her. I live with her first husband and he has taken care of me since I was born. My mom has put me through mental, physical and emotional abuse. I would like to get my rights signed over to her first husband and she is willing for the moment, but I do not know my father and no one has a way to contact him, not even his own family.

Can I still have all my rights signed over to my mom's first husband without his approval, and the possible change of my mother's mind on the subject?

By anon341014 — On Jul 08, 2013

My daughter's father has not helped in any way and has a drug problem. He doesn't want our daughter and I do not want to have the stress. I don't have a husband. Is there hope that a judge would allow him to sign away parental rights? We have both agreed on this.

By anon339859 — On Jun 27, 2013

My child never sees her father and he is supposed to pay child support but doesn't. So why should he have rights anyway? I'd like them taken away from him just to have the peace of mind that he could never just up and change his mind later on.

By anon333788 — On May 07, 2013

I don't care how unruly she is, she's your daughter. Do not sign over rights. You will regret it later down the road.

By anon327494 — On Mar 28, 2013

I see my kids two full days a month. I have no say in how they are raised, no say in who they will be as people and what morals they should live by. The more time that goes by, the farther apart we grow. What "rights" am I signing over exactly? What rights haven't I already lost? All I am is a babysitter and a paycheck.

By anon282656 — On Jul 30, 2012

I can understand fully how this 14 year old daughter of yours has caused heartache and turmoil in your life, but she is your daughter. She will not always be this unruly, disrespectful young woman. Stick with it and her and she just might surprise you--and in a wonderful way.

By anon181203 — On May 28, 2011

I have an out of control 14 yo daughter. She has made several accusations against my husband and me. We have dealt with DFCS, courtrooms, counselors, etc. I'm ready to sign my rights over and be done with this! Any suggestions?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers, a talented writer for MyLawQuestions, holds a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Her background in journalism helps her create well-researched and engaging content, providing readers with valuable insights and information on a variety of subjects.
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