Can a parent give up their parental rights?

By Kate Miller
October 10, 2017
Can a parent give up their parental rights?

In order to give up rights you must first have them. Paternity is how you establish you have rights to the child. The other one is how we discussed about the psychological parent. It's possible that the biological parent is not the paternal parent. So, establishing paternity gives the biological parent rights to the child. Married couples who are presumed to be the biological parents already have rights to the child.

Once you have established you have rights to the child, there's two ways parents can relinquish responsibilities. First if the court decides the parent is unfit to be a parent and then terminates that parent's rights, this step usually happens before the child comes legally available for adoption or is put in foster care.

Second the parent can consent to the termination of his or her rights but there must be another adult ready and willing to take his or her place, like a step-parent. In the second scenario, the psychological parent, by adopting the child would assume the rights of the former biological parent.

The court requires the person to take the place of the biological parent before the biological parent can terminate their rights for policy reasons. Imagine all of those parents who just don’t want to pay child support attempting to terminate their rights without anyone taking their place? The children would be on welfare. So, there's always two parents responsible for a child. In order for one to voluntarily terminate his or her rights, there has to be another potential parent ready to step in or adopt a child.

Kate Miller is a Denver, Colorado attorney focused exclusively on the practices of divorce and family law. She has lived many of the issues regarding divorce and child custody, and is passionate about helping people through this process. To learn more about Kate and her firm visit

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October 10, 2017
Categories:  FAQs

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