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Can a Parent Give Up His or Her Parental Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Jul 2019 |
 
Can A Parent Give Up His Or Her Parental Rights?

If another person is recognised as the ‘legal’ mother or father of the child this means that the biological or former mother or father of the child does not have legal responsibility for the child any more.

Here are some examples of situations in which a biological parent may not be the ‘legal’ parent of the child:

  • After an adoption order is made
  • After a surrogacy order is made
  • If a married woman is inseminated artificially or conceives a child by in vitro fertilisation after 31st July 1991 the father will be her husband, unless he did not consent to the treatment.
  • If a man was a sperm donor to a woman married to another man who consented to the insemination, and the child is born in England or Wales after 3rd April 1988 and insemination took place before 1st August 1991, the father will be the woman’s husband.

Adoption

When a child is adopted, the legal responsibility of the biological parents is transferred to the adoptive parents. Children can only be adopted if they are under 18 years old and have never been married, and the biological parents must consent to the adoption of their child. However, if the biological parents are seen to be unreasonably withholding consent, the requirement for their consent can be waived. Since April 2007 adoption and fostering agencies have been required to consider gay and lesbian couples as prospective adoptive parents.

Surrogacy

Once a surrogate mother has given birth to a child, the court can make a parental order that transfers the legal responsibility to the intended parents. Although there have been over 700 surrogacy cases in the UK since 1985, not all have worked out according to plan. Although surrogacy is legal in the UK, it is illegal to ‘pay’ a surrogate mother anything other than ‘reasonable expenses’ for the surrogacy.

Before the child is born, the intended parents have very few rights. Once the baby is born, the intended father’s name can go on the birth certificate (so giving the surrogate mother and the intended father equal legal rights over the child.) Six weeks after the birth, the intended parents are entitled to ask for a parental order that transfers the rights from the surrogate mother to them.

At the time of writing, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is set to introduce new provisions in relation to parenting orders. At the moment, only heterosexual married couples are entitled to apply for these orders. The new law will allow same sex civil-partnership couples, unmarried couples and same sex couples not in a civil partnership the right to apply to the court for this type of order, although they must be in a long-term relationship.

Local Authorities & Court Orders

If a child is deemed to be at risk the local authority will investigate further and may take the child or children into care. In the first instance the local authority will try to resolve the issues without going to court but if after an attempt at resolution has failed, and it is considered that the child/children is still at risk it may apply to court to obtain a court order. The court must then decide whether or not a child is at risk. If so it may make a care or supervision order; if not it may make a residence order, a contact order, a specific issue order or a prohibited steps order.

Foster parents only have temporary rights over fostered children and do not have legal rights over them unless or until they decide to adopt them.

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My sons father hasn’t had much contact with our son in 3 years, in 3 years he’s seen him 5 times and that’s only because I have gone to the town where he lives to see family. He has over come to our town once since we moved here almost three years ago. Before this he was unreliable would cancel all the time hardly paid any maintenance in the five years we have been split. He sees him once a year because I take him to his town but that’s for 24 hours. This lack of routine is affecting my 6 year old son, he’s an anxiouschild as it is and all this dose not help. He’s never been to any doctors appointments a and e or operations he’s undergoing assessments for autism now again he had two years of assessments before. Where do I stand I want no contact and can’t afford to take him to court and he cannot afford to take me to court
Moore95 - 17-Jul-19 @ 5:56 PM
I'm a single dad of two kids who live with me full time there is no court order but the kids mother doesn't want anything to do with them she is more concerned bout the two kids she had after with other men is there a way where she can voluntarily give up her rights as she she in past she doesn't get on with the kids
Dan - 20-Jun-19 @ 4:21 PM
I’m currently 6 months pregnant and think it would be in the best interests of my unborn child and the father of my unborn child to surrender all parental rights to him. If needed I can pay him support is this legally an option.
Frankie - 17-Jun-19 @ 10:20 PM
If a child is 19 and in education until the middle of May (BTEC) when does the child maintenance stop? Also, as the "child" is technically an adult, is it possible to pay the 19 year old the money, rather than the mother/father? I am asking on behalf of a friend. Regards Caroline
C - 19-Mar-19 @ 2:18 PM
My husband and i separated nearly 2 years ago and he has always seen the children twice a week with 1 overnight stay. He is now saying he would only like one overnight a fortnight because they are too much hard work. Youngest has picked up a few swear words which he claims 'daddy says this all the time' and my eldest is really struggling in school due to not knowing where he stands with his Dad and when hes meant to sleep over there. Am i in my rights to stop access until their dad stops messing us all about and agrees to regular access or has he got me over a barrel and i have to agree to the access on his terms? Our children are both autistic so routine and consistency are very important.
Avi - 14-Mar-19 @ 2:20 PM
We have had our granddaughter for just over two years now . The sgo was stoped by the social workers being pig headed . Would it be possible for our daughter to give up her rights and would it make it easier to get the sgo
alex - 2-Mar-19 @ 8:00 AM
I have been a mother 20 years two boys to the same man He has decided that he wants to take the youngest Now we are in court! He has emotional tortured me since I left him just over a year ago taking everything! Now we're in court! Can a father just decide he wants s time be a father and take from a mother!!! He a high status Me in benefits What can I do Back in court in 12 weeks 24 days to submit my evidence!
Nicole - 2-Mar-19 @ 6:42 AM
I have share care court order and I see my daughter every second weekend and every Wednesday. I have huge problems with my ex and im afraid. I would like to give up my parental rights and move to another country for safety. How can i remove my parental rights and leave?
sruble - 8-Feb-19 @ 12:13 PM
my sister wants to hand over her two daughters parental responsibilities to me. how can she go about it is it acceptable kindly advice because I also can not wait to have them as mine since I can not have children
haffie - 15-Oct-18 @ 12:11 PM
Hi Where do i start my daughter will be 3 in jan her dad hasnt seen her since she was 2 months old after a stressfull breakup when she was born he dosent want anything to do with her i dont claim csa from him i am not bothered about the money can we make it legal so he dosent have any rights to her like he wants or can someone somwhow make him pay an intrest or is adoption the only way for him to surrender his rights? If so can i adopt my own child on my own? Thank you
Petals1992 - 29-Sep-18 @ 1:56 PM
Hi looking for some advice. I have a 5 month old daughter and her father from the beginning said he didn’t want to be a part of the child’s life. Since then he has still shown no interest, ask for a dna test but then haven’t heard since we had that done. He’s never seen her, never paid any money or anything. Can I apply for full custody or get his rights taken away from him. As I can prove that he is unfit dad
Disney - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:21 PM
Mara - Your Question:
Hello just looking for some advice. My childs father has been absent from her life since she was 5 months old, she is now 4. He has never paid any maintenance nor has he tried to be a part of her life. I have received an email today from him stating he wishes to be taken off her birth certificate (this I know can't be done) but also states he wishes to renounce his PR. Is this something that can be done via court? Thank you

Our Response:
Your child's father would have to apply to court to do this and it is highly unlikely a court would allow this (unless there was very good reason). Likewise, your child's father will still be eligible to pay child maintenance regardless of whether he has contact/access to his child or not.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Sep-18 @ 1:53 PM
Hello just looking for some advice. My childs father has been absent from her life since she was 5 months old, she is now 4. He has never paid any maintenance nor has he tried to be a part of her life. I have received an email today from him stating he wishes to be taken off her birth certificate (this I know can't be done) but also states he wishes to renounce his PR. Is this something that can be done via court? Thank you
Mara - 2-Sep-18 @ 9:11 PM
Tum - Your Question:
My 14 years old daughter wants her father to give up his rights because for 5 years he has not been there for her. When she was born she fell under my birth status and having to need her father to sign her passport form from my birth country. He has been making it so difficult that she has missed out on school trips abroad and had not been able to travel for holidays. How do I go abouts removing him from the parental rights?

Our Response:
You would have to apply to directly court.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-18 @ 11:31 AM
My 14 years old daughter wants her father to give up his rights because for 5 years he has not been there for her. When she was born she fell under my birth status and having to need her father to sign her passport form from my birth country. He has been making it so difficult that she has missed out on school trips abroad and had not been able to travel for holidays. How do I go abouts removing him from the parental rights?
Tum - 30-Jul-18 @ 2:22 PM
Bob - Your Question:
I have a 14 year old daughter who has avoided contact, phone or otherwise, for over a year. When I pushed the issue she told me she wants to end all contact, permanently. I can't force her to allow me to be a part of her life, so I'm not going to take them to court for visitation. However, given that I have virtually no parental rights as it is, and no access to the child, even via phone, would it be possible for me to relinquish those rights all together thus ending support obligations? Can I be legally required to pay support for the next 5 years or whatever it is, even though I have been blocked from ALL access to the child? Thanks in advance

Our Response:
Child maintenance and child access have no bearing on each other, meaning regardless of whether you see your child or not you are still by law seen to be financially responsible towards the day-to-day upkeep of your daughter.
ChildSupportLaws - 19-Jul-18 @ 11:26 AM
I have a 14 year old daughter who has avoided contact, phone or otherwise, for over a year.When I pushed the issue she told me she wants to end all contact, permanently.I can't force her to allow me to be a part of her life, so I'm not going to take them to court for visitation.However, given that I have virtually no parental rights as it is, and no access to the child, even via phone, would it be possible for me to relinquish those rights all together thus ending support obligations?Can I be legally required to pay support for the next 5 years or whatever it is, even though I have been blocked from ALL access to the child?Thanks in advance
Bob - 17-Jul-18 @ 10:53 PM
@Ellie - simple don't give up any rights if you don't want to. It could only take place if you consent to adoption - so don't.
Ricbn - 4-Jun-18 @ 3:35 PM
Hi my son lives wiv hes dad and sternum and two younger sibling by hes stepmum. Hes step-mum wants me to let her have some legal rights over our son as hes severely disabled incase something happens to hes dad as they are not married and i had ive been told that if anthing does he would go into care as ive already lost 3 other children to care & have been adopted. But I've since been a stable relationship and married for 5 years wiv a stepson who is 17 wiv Learning difficulties. Anyway ive been advised by a friend not to give up any of my rights as i could loose them all. What do i do?
Ellie - 1-Jun-18 @ 5:33 PM
Hi my sister and brother in law are in bits. Their son aged 15.5 has made their lives hell for the past year siafter getting involved with a gang and taking drugs. He has 15 arrests has gone back and forth with police, sosocial services,CAMS and counselling but simply doesn't care and doesn't turn up for meetings. Today he wwaps in court against for criminal damage claims. He called his mother a hitch and worse in court. They have referred him back to YOS .They just wasatnt him gone. He carries a knife and has tried to attack both of them when high. His younger brother has become a quiet and introverted chap and says he hates him. What can they do? Can they give up their parental rights? I really fear for their mental states and marriage. Thanks in advance for any help
Cookie - 25-May-18 @ 6:26 PM
@Curlywurly123 - If you are really at the end of your thether you can voluntarily hand your daughter over to the local authority (put her into care). A decision that is not to be taken lightly :( Many parents struggle when looking after their kids during their teenage years. But it's a big step to give your child away.
RoseN - 17-May-18 @ 12:57 PM
I was in a 20 year relationship (married) now divorced, I have a 13 year old daughter who is physically, emotionally and mentally abusive towards myself, (mum) I have tried everything I have involved social services and police and I’m getting no help, I am becoming isolated from family and friends and feel I can no longer cope, I am unwell and have had surgery on my stomach and my daughter keeps assaulting me and trying to hurt me in the area I’ve had surgery, her dad won’t help and just keeps saying he can not and will not allow her to go to live with him, and social services say that we have parental responsibility and won’t help, this week I felt I could take no more when my daughter used my bank card and stole over a thousand pounds, I have informed police but I didn’t know what to do so I went missing, my daughter is now in the company of her father, but I feel I could not take her back for my own safety and that of my daughter, I’m now convinced that the best help I can give myself and my daughter would be to give up my parental rights. Any information about doing this would be very helpful as I haven’t come to this decision lightly .... TIA
Curlywurly123 - 17-May-18 @ 6:40 AM
MJ - Your Question:
So I currently have a 3 week old son and the biological dad (who I’m not in a relationship with) doesn’t want anything to do with him. He has said that he is happy for my partner, who has been there for us both since day one, to be on the birth certificate and to adopt my son. How does the biological father sign his rights over and can my partner be on the birth certificate?

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here, which will tell you all you need to know.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-Apr-18 @ 2:33 PM
So I currently have a 3 week old son and the biological dad (who I’m not in a relationship with) doesn’t want anything to do with him. He has said that he is happy for my partner, who has been there for us both since day one, to be on the birth certificate and to adopt my son. How does the biological father sign his rights over and can my partner be on the birth certificate?
MJ - 2-Apr-18 @ 10:50 PM
S - Your Question:
My babies father decided to leave me when I was five months pregnant saying that he doesn’t want anything to do with baby anymore. Baby is now four months old and he has not contacted or shown any interest still , He did say that he was going to only financially support but even that he hasn’t done. Can I get him to give up rights to my child if so how do I do that ?

Our Response:
If you wish your ex to financially contribute you can apply via CMS, please see link here. You would have to apply to court to request the father of your child's Parental Responsibility rights be taken from him. However, it is very rare a court will allow this, as there has to be a very good provable reason, such as convicted child neglect, abuse etc.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Mar-18 @ 11:33 AM
My babies father decided to leave me when I was five months pregnant saying that he doesn’t want anything to do with baby anymore.Baby is now four months old and he has not contacted or shown any interest still , He did say that he was going to only financially support but even that he hasn’t done .Can I get him to give up rights to my child if so how do I do that ?
S - 14-Mar-18 @ 9:13 AM
Hi I raised my first born in a vilent relationship with a man that bullied and abused me. Our 14 year old son is nw doing the same. IV asked for help many times over the years but have not received any. Can I give up my parental rights to this child?
Cham - 12-Mar-18 @ 11:36 PM
Lizzy - Your Question:
I am married but I wish to separate from my husband. If anything is to happen to me, I don't trust him with my daughter I know he will just send her aboard. Therefore I was wondering may I sign over my parental responsibility to my parents so they can have legal say. In case

Our Response:
You can name your parents as legal guardians in your will. You must include any written permissions from the guardian or guardians to be so that there can be no doubt or complicated wrangling with social services, courts and extended family members.It is important that the will reflects you and the individuals in question are in full agreement and that you are of sound mind at the time of writing. As there are certain procedures which would have to be followed, you may wish to speak to a solicitor who specialises in family matters. You cannot legally award your parents parental responsibility.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Feb-18 @ 2:35 PM
I am married but I wish to separate from my husband. If anything is to happen to me, I don't trust him with my daughter I know he will just send her aboard. Therefore I was wondering may I sign over my parental responsibility to my parents so they can have legal say. In case
Lizzy - 24-Feb-18 @ 5:29 AM
Hi my ex boyfriend was deported to his native country over 10 years ago. My problem is we have a daughter together she is now 14, and ever since I taken full responsibility all her life and he has never helped in bringing up my daughter, now my daughter uses her father's second name on her travelling documents. Some countries won't allow me to travel with my daughter without her father's consent. How do l get documents to show the authorities, allowing me to travel with my daughter without his consent as it is difficult to get in touch with him?
Blue - 1-Feb-18 @ 11:07 PM
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