Sometimes for reasons connected to money or other complex issues, parents may seek to sign over or terminate their parental rights. For example, a parent may not be able to meet the child support obligations or may discover they are not a biological parent of the child.
Signing Over Parental Rights in Texas
The process involved in terminating parental rights in Texas is very complex. But once the termination is complete, you will no longer be considered the parent of the child or children. That means you can no longer discipline the child or contact them. In fact, the child gets a new birth certificate that removes the name of the parent that relinquished their parental rights.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
Before you decide to attempt to sign off your parental rights, consider the financial risks involved. You do not want to spend thousands of dollars only to get to court and be told no by a judge. To start the process of relinquishing your parental rights, you will first need to file a lawsuit.
Texas Family Code Chapter 161
There are a number of situations where a court may order termination of the parent-child relationship. These situations are specified under the Texas Family Code section 161. Some of them include:
The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence:
(1) that the parent has:
(A) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
(B) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least three months;
(C) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months;
(D) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
(E) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
(F) failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;
(G) abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;
(H) voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the child beginning at a time during her pregnancy with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart from the child or failed to support the child since the birth; –Read entire statute at Tx Fam Code 161 (embedded below).
Keep in mind that once your parental rights are terminated, your child support obligations are also terminated. It may also terminate the child’s rights to inherit from you.
Pregnant Mother Giving Up Parental Rights in Texas
Sometimes for the sake of adoption and because of financial constraints, an unmarried pregnant mother may decide to give up their child to another family after the child is born. It is not uncommon in such situations for the mother to actually file a petition to terminate her parental rights after her first trimester of pregnancy. To give the mother time to reconsider her decision to give away the child, a hearing is held five days after the child is born.
A mother that is not willing to go to court can instead sign an affidavit 2 days after the child is born. The affidavit remains revocable for ten days, which is enough time for the mother to change her mind. However, the father of the child has the same parental rights as the mother, and can challenge the adoption in court.
Texas Courts and Parental Rights Cases
In Texas, the “child’s best interest” is the first priority of the court. So the court is mostly interested in the child’s present and future emotional and physical needs. If you want to relinquish your parental rights, consult an experienced family lawyer to guide you through the process.
Parental Rights FAQ
Can fathers terminate their parental rights in Texas?
Voluntary termination of parental rights is covered in Texas Family Code Ch 161. The parent must file a petition with the court, and the judge will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
How do I give up my parental rights in Texas?
Most Texas Family Law Courts will be reluctant to let you give up your parental rights. Typically a petition must be filed with the court, and the judge will decide based on the best interests of the child. Tx Fam Code 161 covers this extensively including exactly when you can lose your parental rights. We have re-printed that verbiage and linked to the Code on this article.
If I give up my rights as a parent, what happens in Texas?
Tx Fam Code Ch 161 covers when you can lose your parental rights. See...How to sign away parental rights in Texas above. Once termination is complete, you are no longer considered the parent of the child, the implications of which are described in the article above.