Child support is a contentious issue and often the main concern of people seeking out a child visitation lawyer for help. A common question asked by both parents ordered to pay child support and those receiving it is whether it is possible to get out of child support obligations by surrendering parental rights. The short answer is “yes.” Child support obligations are generally ended when parental rights are terminated according to our friends at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC. However, termination is a very serious legal action that courts are loath to take. In all family law cases involving children, the court’s primary consideration is the wellbeing of the child and it will rarely find that terminating a parent’s rights is in the child’s best interest, especially if the primary motivation for pursuing termination is avoiding financial responsibility.
Additionally, the state possesses its own interest in any given child and would rather not financially support a child in the situation that they need further assistance down the road, such as if a parent were to die or suffer a loss of income. The state would rather the remaining parent finance this instead of assuming this responsibility itself.
Termination goes beyond being an uninvolved or noncustodial parent. It completely ends the legal relationship between child and parent. Not only are child support obligations ended, but so are all other legal obligations to provide for the child, as well as all parental rights and privileges. The former-parent assumes the position of legal stranger to the child, with no ability to make parenting decisions or pursue future SAPCR (Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship) cases.
Termination is only possible through court order. It is not something that can be worked out between the parents themselves, nor does a signed waiver of interest or signed affidavit of voluntary relinquishment suffice. Nothing short of a judge signing an order constitutes termination.
Potential reasons for termination include child abandonment, placing the child in dangerous circumstances, and posing a threat to the child. These mostly apply to involuntary terminations, although a parent satisfying a ground for termination is not a guarantee that their rights will actually be terminated. The chapter also lists the processes for voluntary termination, which the court is more inclined to grant in cases where someone else agrees to assume responsibility for the child, such as in stepparent adoptions.
Though, even when parental rights are terminated, there are cases wherein some degree of child support obligation remains. A termination case can include requirements that the parent’s whose rights were terminated pay support, including in cases where the child was conceived via a criminal act or if the parent had preexisting arrears, among other situations.
For an in-depth understanding of your rights and options in your own case, it is best to contact a local family law attorney. Even if termination is not an option or an unideal choice, an experienced attorney will be able to help you find avenues that work best for your family.