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: 27 Jul 2017 |
 
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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Jen - Your Question:
My little boys dad is on his birth certificate, but hasnt payed any child mantiance, hasnt bought Christmas presents/birthday presents. He has done absolutely nothing for him. He has said he doesnt love my little boy. He has also said he no longer wants parental responsibility anymore. My little boy is nearly 5 and I am wanting to change his surname to mine. Would I be able to? He sent me an email in 2015 saying " I here by diminish my parental responsibility.

Our Response:
You would still have to ask the consent of your son's father to change your child's name. Unless his parental responsibility is taken away through a court of law, he still has it.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Jul-17 @ 3:16 PM
My little boys dad is on his birth certificate, but hasnt payed any child mantiance, hasnt bought Christmas presents/birthday presents. He has done absolutely nothing for him. He has said he doesnt love my little boy. He has also said he no longer wants parental responsibility anymore. My little boy is nearly 5 and I am wanting to change his surname to mine.Would I be able to? He sent me an email in 2015 saying " I here by diminish my parental responsibility.
Jen - 27-Jul-17 @ 8:54 PM
TC74 - Your Question:
I am going through a rough time at the moment and I would like to sign over PR to my child's father quick and how easy is it to do and will I be able to get it back once I get myself together

Our Response:
You do not need to sign away the parental responsibilities of your child and it is rare a court will allow you to do this. However, if you allow your child to live with the other parent, then it will be difficult to step in and take your child to live with you again as the father will have become the primary carer with equal rights. If you still feel strongly that you wish to come to an agreement with the father, then this can be drawn up by a solicitor or via mediation. But that does not mean that agreement will stand should circumstances change. That would be a matter for the courts to decide.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jul-17 @ 4:06 PM
Rach - Your Question:
Hi, my childrens father is willingly wanting to terminate his PR and no longer wants to be on the birth certificate. How can we do this so I get 100% PR and everything is legal that he is nothing to do with them. I have a letter signed and dated by hi declaring this. Thanks

Our Response:
You would have to take the matter to court for the court to decide. However, it is rare a court will allow a parent to relinquish parental responsibility.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Jul-17 @ 12:13 PM
I am going through a rough time at the moment and I would like to sign over PR to my child's father quick and how easy is it to do and will I be able to get it back once I get myself together
TC74 - 17-Jul-17 @ 11:11 AM
Hi, my childrens father is willingly wanting to terminate his PR and no longer wants to be on the birth certificate. How can we do this so i get 100% PR and everything is legal that he is nothing to do with them. I have a letter signed and dated by hideclaring this. Thanks
Rach - 15-Jul-17 @ 3:12 PM
Katm21 - Your Question:
My partner had a child with a lady he separated from when the child was as young. She denied him contact and married. Her husband went to court and got parental rights for the child. Does this mean my partner has no obligation to provide financial support for the child?They are now divorcing. Does the soon to be ex husband still have rights and does he have to provide for the child in the divorce settlement?

Our Response:
Your partner is still considered as being financially responsible for his child whether his ex is married or not. Only if his ex's husband adopted the child, would it mean your partner was no longer financially responsible for the child. Otherwise, the husband has no financial obligation. I hope that makes sense!
ChildSupportLaws - 7-Jul-17 @ 2:59 PM
My partner had a child with a lady he separated from when the child was as young. She denied him contact and married. Her husband went to court and got parental rights for the child. Does this mean my partner has no obligation to provide financial support for the child? They are now divorcing. Does the soon to be ex husband still have rights and does he have to provide for the child in the divorce settlement?
Katm21 - 24-Jun-17 @ 7:32 PM
I have 5 children with my ex. And 2 more on the way. I don't want to be a dad no more. I can not look after them no more. I am on 3 birth certificates. She has no other partner that wants to be their dad. How would I get a court to abolish my parental rights?
Jgill - 7-Jun-17 @ 9:08 PM
My daughters father has agreed to give up all parental responsibility to her. Is there any way we could do this without having to hand his rights over to another person ? Can he just give me 100% responsibility to her ? He doesn't want to be in her life and doesn't want to have to pay csa
C20 - 4-Jun-17 @ 6:12 PM
Harrison - Your Question:
Hi, my wife got pregnant during a short fling whilst on a break from a previous partner. By the time the child was born she was back with her partner. Her partners name went on the birth certificate (not the biological father). We have now been married for 2 years together for almost 4 years. I want to adopt the child and get the previous partners name removed from the birth certificate (he has no issues with this). The biological fathers location is unknown. Can I adopt and get the birth certificate changed? Does the biological father have responsibilities and will the courts try and find him?

Our Response:
Your wife will have to locate the father who is registered on the birth certificate to ask for permission. The biological father has no parental responsibility, as he is not registered. If the biological father knows he is the father, then he can contest this if he wishes to take the matter to court for a paternity test. At the same time please be aware both your wife and her ex-partner have committed paternity fraud by illegally registering the non-biological parent on the birth certificate. You can also see Family Lives link her with regareds to adoption here.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-May-17 @ 10:44 AM
Hi, my wife got pregnant during a short fling whilst on a break from a previous partner. By the time the child was born she was back with her partner. Her partners name went on the birth certificate (not the biological father). We have now been married for 2 years together for almost 4 years. I want to adopt the child and get the previous partners name removed from the birth certificate (he has no issues with this). The biological fathers location is unknown. Can i adopt and get the birth certificate changed? Does the biological father have responsibilities and will the courts try and find him?
Harrison - 25-May-17 @ 1:14 PM
Cata - Your Question:
I will have my baby in 2 months. Me and my partner are not together anymore and We decided that he will give up any rights. We are romanians and I don't know if the law is the same for everyone. We are residents here for 3 and a half years. I don't know what to do. I'm scared that he will take my baby away from me. Any advice????

Our Response:
If your partner is not registered on the birth certificate, then he will not have any parental responsibility rights, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 3-May-17 @ 10:21 AM
I will have my baby in 2 months. Me and my partner are not together anymore and We decided that he will give up any rights. We are romanians and I don't know if the law is the same for everyone. We are residents here for 3 and a half years. I don't know what to do. I'm scared that he will take my baby away from me. Any advice????
Cata - 2-May-17 @ 10:41 AM
sheryl - Your Question:
My adopted daughter lives with her Father and chooses not to have contact with me. Her father is now in a relationship and I would like to give my daughter the chance to have a complete family unit by releasing my parental rights to allow the partner to in effect become her Mum. Is this possible?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your ex's partner wants to take on this responsibility. However, you cannot withdraw your parental responsibility rights unless a court agrees it and/or your ex's new partner requests to adopt your child and you give consent.
ChildSupportLaws - 26-Apr-17 @ 12:49 PM
My adopted daughter lives with her Father and chooses not to have contact with me. Her father is now in a relationship and I would like to give my daughter the chance to havea complete family unit by releasing my parental rights to allow the partner to in effect become her Mum. Is this possible?
sheryl - 25-Apr-17 @ 5:44 PM
Delo88 - Your Question:
My ex had my son approx 7 yrs ago for which I have being paying csa direct from my wages ever since.I have reason to believe she is now in a stable relationship, as am I (which whom I have a child of my own with my partner).Do I either have to continue having csa taken from my wages if my ex's partner is financially helping them, also will csa take into account I have my own family to support?Thank you

Our Response:
Regardless of who your ex lives with, you will still be considered to be part-financially responsible for your child along with the mother until he leaves full-time education. However, if you are supporting other children, this will be taken into consideration. You may wish to check how much you should be paying via the CMS calculator here .
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Apr-17 @ 3:02 PM
Suzie - Your Question:
My son is 10" his dad has been in and out of his life, he hasn't seen him for 8 months, I have asked my sons dad to give up his paternal rights, his reply was do what I want to do, with the changes in the law to taking a child abroad for a holiday, I'm not sure what I have to do legally or were I start

Our Response:
You and your ex cannot officially waive his parental responsibility unless and agreement is made through court. However, it is a rare that a court will allow this, unless it is deemed necessary and it is seen to be in your child's best interests.
ChildSupportLaws - 24-Apr-17 @ 12:04 PM
My ex had my son approx 7 yrs ago for which I have being paying csa direct from my wages ever since. I have reason to believe she is now in a stable relationship, as am I (which whom I have a child of my own with my partner). Do I either have to continue having csa taken from my wages if my ex's partner is financially helping them, also will csa take into account I have my own family to support? Thank you
Delo88 - 23-Apr-17 @ 11:56 PM
My son is 10" his dad has been in and out of his life, he hasn't seen him for 8 months, I have asked my sons dad to give up his paternal rights,his reply was do what I want to do,with the changes in the law to taking a child abroad for a holiday,I'm not sure what I have to do legally or were I start
Suzie - 23-Apr-17 @ 7:10 PM
My children's dad hasn't seen them since 2011 they are now nearly 8 and theydon't remember him or want to see him. He also wants no contact with them soI want to know if he could sign his parental rights over to just me.
Rlm - 22-Apr-17 @ 3:37 PM
My son's biological father has got in touch. He wishes time give up his PR in return for no longer paying maintenance.We would be happy to accept this. Is this even doable in the United kingdom? Thanks
JDCH - 20-Mar-17 @ 11:41 PM
Victoria- Your Question:
My daughters biological father and I split before she was born however he came to register the birth with me and her surname is my maiden name and I've since married. My daughter spent the first 4 months of her life in hospital where he biological father visited her 3 times. He's had no contact with her since, I am now married to another man who is wanting to adopt her. I've had no support from her BF either financially, physically or emotionally. Where do I stand as he is now doubting her paternity as I've asked him to give his rights up.

Our Response:
Please see Family Lives link here which will tell you all you need to know.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:24 PM
MrsH - Your Question:
Hi my husband has a child from a previous relationship, the other woman wamt him to give up his parental rights and allow her to change the child last name if he does this does he still have to maintenance ?

Our Response:
Your husband cannot officially give up his parental responsibility. He will still be responsible to pay child maintenance regardless of whether he has anything to do with the child, sees his child and/or whether his ex changes his child's name.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Mar-17 @ 12:22 PM
My daughters biological father and I split before she was born however he came to register the birth with me and her surname is my maiden name and I've since married. My daughter spent the first 4 months of her life in hospital where he biological father visited her 3 times. He's had no contact with her since, I am now married to another man who is wanting to adopt her. I've had no support from her BF either financially, physically or emotionally. Where do I stand as he is now doubting her paternity as I've asked him to give his rights up.
Victoria - 15-Mar-17 @ 8:23 PM
hi my husband has a child from a previous relationship, the other woman wamt him to give up his parental rights and allow her to change the child last name if he does this does he still have to maintenance ?
MrsH - 15-Mar-17 @ 6:56 PM
Becky - Your Question:
Hi. My ex husband and I split 10 years ago and divorced. We have an 11 year old son who he had regular contact with up until him emigrating 2 years ago. Does he lose parental responsibility to his son? He is in contact via FaceTime but other than that my son has no contact with him. He has applied for citizenship in the country he lives in. My partner who lives with us would like to adopt my son and take responsibility for him and his future. Do I need permission from his father to do this? Or has he lost any parental rights because he has emigrated? Thankyou for your help

Our Response:
Your ex will not lose parental responsibility over the fact he lives abroad. If your partner wishes to adopt your son you would have to seek the consent of his father, or take the matter to court. However, if your ex has contact with his son and wishes to remain his father, it is unlikely a court would rule to let your current partner adopt your child. This can be considered where the father plays no part, or ever has in the child's life, but is less likely where the father still has some form of contact and is reluctant to hand over his parental responsibility. Please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Feb-17 @ 3:01 PM
Hkbm - Your Question:
I have an unplanned baby with a girl I do not want any contact with her or the baby is there anyway I can waive my parental rights I am not on the birth certificate and don't pay maintenance or have contact please help

Our Response:
Your rights are dependent upon whether the mother of your child chooses to register your name as the child's father on the birth certificate. If she does, then you will have what is classed as Parental Responsibility, which means you will be given 'some' rights over your child. If your ex chooses not to register your name on the birth certificate, then you will have no rights over the welfare of your child. Therefore, if you do not wish to have contact etc with your child, you can request your ex does not register your name on the birth certificate. However, regardless of whether the mother registers your name or not on the birth certificate, the mother can still make a claim for child maintenance which, by law, you will be liable to pay until the child finishes full-time education.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Feb-17 @ 2:53 PM
I have an unplanned baby with a girl I do not want any contact with her or the baby is there anyway I can waive my parental rights I am not on the birth certificate and don't pay maintenance or have contact please help
Hkbm - 21-Feb-17 @ 11:25 AM
Hi. My ex husband and I split 10 years ago and divorced. We have an 11 year old son who he had regular contact with up until him emigrating 2 years ago. Does he lose parental responsibility to his son? He is in contact via FaceTime but other than that my son has no contact with him. He has applied for citizenship in the country he lives in. My partner who lives with us would like to adopt my son and take responsibility for him and his future. Do I need permission from his father to do this? Or has he lost any parental rights because he has emigrated? Thankyou for your help
Becky - 18-Feb-17 @ 5:22 PM
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