Being a parent is not easy. For parents who feel they have exhausted all options in trying to provide the best for their children and are still struggling, or for parents who did not want to become a parent to begin with, there are options.
Filing a Petition
The first step in surrendering your parental rights is filing a petition. In the petition, a parent will include important information such as:
- The child’s name, age, birthdate, current address;
- What led to the parent making this decision;
- Verification that both parents (if applicable) agree to this petition
- Medical and social history of the child
For mothers looking to surrender their parental rights and the biological father of her child is not in the picture, the mother also must make efforts to contact the biological father to see if he would like custody of the child. This includes the mother having a verified statement that she consulted with the putative father registry within 10 days of making the petition to ensure there were no other parental claims of the child.
Doing What’s Best for the Child
When a parent files a petition, even before an official ruling is made, it is up to the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child. The court will look at factors such as:
- What effort has the parent put in to try and make it the best environment for the child;
- Does the parent have a relationship with the child and, is it beneficial to the child to continue that relationship;
- Has there been a change of caretakers for the child, or is the parent mostly present;
- Would the child be better off in a different environment;
- Are there other people in the household that could be neglectful or abusive towards the child;
- What the mental and emotional stability is of the parent or parents and how that has been affecting the child;
- Are there any unpaid child support balances that a parent might be trying to get out of making?
The judge will weigh all these factors before making a final decision on whether or not parental rights should be surrendered. This process could take several days or even weeks or months.
If parental rights are officially surrendered, that means the parent is no longer emotionally or financially responsible for the child. This also means that there is no obligation for the parent to see their child and in turn, whoever is responsible for the child has no obligation to let the biological parent see the child.
Surrendering parental rights shouldn’t be done lightly and should be done with the consultation of a lawyer. At Peterson White, LLP, if you’re considering surrendering your parental rights, you’ll want to talk with one of our Knoxville family law attorneys to guide you through the process. Call us today at (855) 919-4124.