Home > Child Support & Family > Can a Parent Give Up His or Her Parental Rights?

Can a Parent Give Up His or Her Parental Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 17 Jul 2018 |
 
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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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
My girlfriend had a verbal agreement to hand over her parental responsibilities, she never signed a contract, it is my understanding that signing parental responsibilities consists of a legal binding contract, is it possible to get her daughter back?
Luke - 6-Mar-18 @ 8:02 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
callum - Your Question:
Hello, I've had a bit of a mare. I slept with a woman 20 years my senior, I'm 23 and I forgot to check the condom after, I always check but in this instance I didn't. Anyway, over text it appeared she was teasing me etc etc and eventually she said it did tear. she agreed to take the morning after pill and we got hold of it. But after the teasing I can't take anything for face value now. However I'm not fit to be a parent and in panic mode. I am too young, live at home and work a small amount thats enough for me to go and see the world etc. But let's say the "worst" happens and in 9 months there's a child from me, what can I do? Can I sign off my parental rights etc? I can see that comes across as a "dickish" thing to say but I honestly think a child would be better off without me as it's father as I honestly think this would be the worst thing to happen to me. I want a showbiz career etc and hate the idea of having a child with someone I am not with or love and actually have nothing in common with. I appreciate any help!

Our Response:
Unfortunately, you cannot waive the face you are the biologocal father, if a child becomes a product of this relationship. While you may be able to distance yourself from seeing the child or being a physical part of your child's life, you would not be able to distance yourself from the fact that you would be deemed by law financially responsible for helping to support the child (if the mother decides she wishes to claim child maintenance).
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Feb-18 @ 3:50 PM
Hello, I've had a bit of a mare. I slept with a woman 20 years my senior, i'm 23 and I forgot to check the condom after, I always check but in this instance I didn't. Anyway, over text it appeared she was teasing me etc etc and eventually she said it did tear. she agreed to take the morning after pill and we got hold of it. But after the teasing i can't take anything for face value now. However i'm not fit to be a parent and in panic mode. I am too young, live at home and work a small amount thats enough for me to go and see the world etc. But let's say the "worst" happens and in 9 months there's a child from me, what can I do? Can I sign off my parental rights etc? I can see that comes across as a "dickish" thing to say but I honestly think a child would be better off without me as it's father as I honestly think this would be the worst thing to happen to me. I want a showbiz career etc and hate the idea of having a child with someone I am not with or love and actually have nothing in common with. I appreciate any help!
callum - 8-Feb-18 @ 2:44 PM
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
My sons father hasn’t had any contact with him since he was born. I’m worried that if anything happens to me he will get custody even though they haven’t met. How can I terminate his rights?he isn’t interested anyway and I have offered him full contact. I receive £25 a week maintenance which I’m happy to give up.
Me - 29-Jan-18 @ 10:08 AM
Hello my partner has a daughter with another women. The other women has agreed to sign her over to him sole custody. What is the process to voluntarily terminating parental responsibility? After my partner has sole custody of his daughter I am looking to adopt but initially we are eager to get the agreement in writing.As there is no disagreement I assume there would be no reason to go to court? Is it just drawing up custody papers? Or if she was to terminate her parental rights would this act in the same manner? What adopter the costs associated?Within the UK
Sana - 27-Jan-18 @ 8:43 PM
The csm have said I earn £400 a week which I don't but they have not asked for proof, but still I have to pay £107 a week to an 18 year old girl, so annoyed
Noddy - 27-Jan-18 @ 7:53 PM
My child's farther was arrested for child sexual grooming although he wasn't charged I've been in contact with social services for advice and they've advised me to get a residentcy order and will support me in court with this. Is there any way I can apply with court to get full/sole parental rights for my child or either ask him to give up all his responsibility. My child is nearly 2tears old he's never been around and hasn't been any part of my child's life can I put in this application without him being or having to go court?
Worried parent - 3-Jan-18 @ 2:57 AM
Hi me and my partner are splitting up and I would like to give up my parental rights as a mother due to not have a stable place to live and it would be easier on the kids instead of a long drawn out court case andas my ex has support in unlike me. Can it be done and if in the future I want to start a family would that affect me?
Elle - 23-Dec-17 @ 1:28 AM
Doris - Your Question:
Hello my partner and I have had a residence order on my nephew since he was 9 months old my partner thinks I'm going yo take the child and leave him because of a previous relationship and daughter, how can I give him full responsibility without going to court?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should answer your question.
ChildSupportLaws - 8-Dec-17 @ 3:35 PM
KW - Your Question:
Me and my wife broke up years ago, I wish to give up my parental rights to my daughter as I have not seen her since the break up I have paid CSA since the split I was just wondering if this would stop if I gave up parental rights to my daughter

Our Response:
It is rare that a court would allow you to give up your parental rights and is only considered where and when absolutely necessary. Regardless of whether you see your daughter or not, you are still obliged by law to pay child maintenance to help with the day-to-day financial upkeep of your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:04 PM
Me and my wife broke up years ago, I wish to give up my parental rights to my daughter as I have not seen her since the break up I have paid CSA since the split I was just wondering if this would stop if I gave up parental rights to my daughter
KW - 27-Nov-17 @ 7:47 PM
Hello my partner and I have had a residence order on my nephew since he was 9 months old my partner thinks I'm going yo take the child and leave him because of a previous relationship and daughter, how can I give him full responsibility without going to court?
Doris - 25-Nov-17 @ 4:57 PM
R - Your Question:
My husband and I are going to get divorced. He lives overseas and has no contact with our son and does not pay child support. I do not care about child support. I would like my ex to volunatrily give up parental rights so that a) if something happens to me my son would be raised by my family and b) if I meet another partner they would be able to adopt him. If me and my ex agree to this arrangement can it be done?

Our Response:
It is rare that a court will allow one parent to give up parental rights. If you wish for someone other than your ex to take care of your son should anything happen to you. You can leave a provision in your will. Any adult of your choosing can be a guardian to your child/children. This can be a close family friend with whom the child/children already have a bond with, or a family member not already directly involved in their care, such as an aunt or uncle. However, this can be challenged by the other birth parent, If the other birth parent does not have contact with your son, then it is unlikely the other parent would be given care. Likewise, if you meet a new partner and your new partner 'wants' to adopt your son (which is hypothetical currently), then your ex would have to agree, please see link here .
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Nov-17 @ 3:23 PM
My husband and I are going to get divorced. He lives overseas and has no contact with our son and does not pay child support. I do not care about child support. I would like my ex to volunatrily give up parental rights so that a) if something happens to me my son would be raised by my family and b) if I meet another partner they would be able to adopt him. If me and my ex agree to this arrangement can it be done?
R - 16-Nov-17 @ 7:27 AM
Hi I changed my children's surname by deed poll over 5 years ago.. I explained thatthere father had been absent since 2012 and was unaware of his whereabouts and that has not changed to this day.. Everything was fine with the namechange until I applied for a passport for my oldest child.. I cannot get one until I get a letter of consent from father or get a court order.. Cannot get court order with out mediation, can't do mediation as not seen there father for over 8 years, no contact financially, in person, cards, or phone calls etc.. Help
Flv - 12-Nov-17 @ 12:10 AM
Aj - Your Question:
I have a three year old child and their father has no contact (his choice - he may call once every 6months). My new partner would like to adopt. How can we go about this? Do we need the fathers permission? If he cant adopt is there a way he can be given perental status so that my child would be in a safe home should anything happen to me and not be given over to the fathers relatives ( they also have no contact -their choice not mine )

Our Response:
Please see the Family Lives link here, which should help answer your question. In order for your current partner to apply for PR, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:45 AM
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