Any situation that involves the custody of a child can be painful, stressful, and long. Usually, when people think of custody battles, they think of parents fighting to keep their respective rights over their children, but sometimes the case is a bit more complicated than that. There are some circumstances in which a parent may voluntarily choose to give up parental rights, although this situation is not likely to be successful unless there are specific facts that are met.
The best way to make the process as smooth as possible is to trust a San Antonio family law attorney to answer your questions and keep you and your child protected. The last thing parents in these difficult situations need is judgement and scrutiny. If you have to make a choice to protect your child, working with an attorney is a smart choice.
Why do parents give up their parental rights?
There are many reasons why parents in San Antonio may choose to give up their parental rights. They may be too young to raise a child. They may do so if they are about to be incarcerated, or if their co-parent is remarrying, and the new spouse wishes to adopt the child. They may do so because they are unhoused, or because they are no longer in a position to financially provide for the child.
At the heart of most of these decisions is the knowledge that they cannot care for their children. Per the Washington Post, there may be thousands of families who must choose between keeping their child or getting them proper mental health treatment. A woman named Lisa Rowe was one of these parents. Her son has had a wide array of developmental, behavioral, and mental diagnoses throughout his life, but none of them ever lead to meaningful treatment. In-patient facility centers saw him abused and jaded, and other programs never seemed to care.
Worse than that, he was a physical threat to himself and those around him. He dealt with severe suicidal ideation and substance abuse, and also frequently physically threatened or assaulted his mother. No one could help. She couldn’t afford what he needed, both financially and emotionally — but the state could, if it were responsible for him.
Other families in the same situation often come to the same conclusion. When a child becomes so belligerent and dangerous that they need extensive supervision and care, parents can be worn down — especially if their child is hurting them, too. Add in intensive treatment centers that are way out of a family’s price range and a lack of other options for help, and it becomes easier to see how someone could make such a choice. Once their child is surrendered, their child’s mental healthcare is both prioritized and paid for. For the person you love most in the world, it is not something you write off.
The court most likely will not consider terminating your rights if your primary goal is not to pay child support for the child. This is not in the best interest of the child, unless there is a step parent willing to step into your shoes and provide for the child.
How do you voluntarily terminate parental rights in San Antonio?
Whether you need your child to receive special treatment or other circumstances have led to you surrendering them for adoption, the first step is a voluntary termination of your parental rights. Once this is done, you will legally no longer be the parent. As the name suggests, you surrender all rights regarding your child in an irreversible process. A San Antonio family law attorney can talk you through everything this entails, and help you determine if this is the best path for you and your child.
To get started, is one document you can sign. An affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights This document tells the court you surrender your rights and your interest in your child, but it does not mean the termination has actually happened. A judge has to sign a court order to terminate your parental rights after a case is filed with the court.
For the affidavit to lead to a court order, it must meet certain requirements including being signed in front of two disinterested witnesses and a notary, to make sure you are not acting under external pressure or duress. In other words, it must confirm you are truly doing this voluntarily. Once the necessary requirements have all been satisfied and a case has been filed with the court with your affidavit, the court will hold a hearing to discuss the termination. There, a judge considers your affidavit of voluntary relinquishment along with any other important factors to determine if the termination is in the child’s best interest. You need to consider that the court evaluates all aspects of the child’s best interest before making a determination that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. If the court believes the requirements of the Texas Family Code have been met, the judge will sign a court order terminating all parental rights you may have to the child and you will no longer have a legal relationship with your child.
What risks do you face when you terminate parental rights?
First and foremost, you risk losing any and all contact with your child. Once your rights are terminated, you no longer have any say in how that child is raised. This is true even if you give up your rights so that your children can be adopted by their new stepparent; once the order is final, you may never see your children again.
Furthermore, the court may grant your court order while also finding you criminally negligent if you have, in any way, failed to care for your child in their eyes. Even if such “failure” happened because you were being threatened or abused or acting out of reasonable fear, the legal system is not always kind to surrendering parents. Part of our role as family law attorneys is to help show a court that you did the best you could, and that no criminal charges should be filed.
This is one of the many reasons why, even though you are not legally required to hire an attorney for the termination of your parental rights, we highly recommend that you do. The San Antonio family law attorneys at Grable Grimshaw PLLC will look out for your best interests, and offer compassionate advice and judgement-free representation. We are here for you in the city and throughout South Texas. To get started, call us today at 210-761-5687 or use our contact form.