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Can a Parent Give Up His or Her Parental Rights?

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 19 Nov 2016 |
 
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 been battling depression for many years this yr it has got extremely bad where I will scream and shout to the husband and kids . The other day I did a impulse thing and tried to end things my Hubbie don't want me home untill I am better and getting support but I need to be home and prove to him I am willing to get help . I have also offered to sign all parental rights to our children so if I do anything silly he can throw me out and stop me seeing the kids . For me to do this I know I will sort myself out as I have way to much to loose I realise that now . Can I do this ? If yes how can I remove my right into just his
Unicorn - 19-Nov-16 @ 6:40 PM
jb - Your Question:
Have I left oz with my child 4YRS AGO I have full day to day care. Dad left 10 day before he was born seen him for 7 hour of his live up till he was 5.weeks old never seen him since.Did not ask permision as he did not want anything to do with him how do I get full custody in the uk someone told me I could get this because he has not seen him and he did not want anything to do with him

Our Response:
You would have to apply for a child arrangement order, please see link here.
ChildSupportLaws - 16-Nov-16 @ 12:41 PM
Have i left oz with my child 4YRS AGOi have full day to day care . Dad left 10 day before hewas born seen him for 7 hour of his live up till he was 5 .weeks old never seen him since .Did not ask permision as he did not want anything to do with him how do i get full custody in the uksomeone told me icould get this because he has not seen him and he did not want anything to do with him
jb - 15-Nov-16 @ 2:30 PM
Jmonique - Your Question:
Iv recently been admitted to hospital with a life threatening illness and waiting to undergo surgery. I want to take the legal steps to ensure if anything was to happen to me during/after the surgery that my step mum will receive full custody of my 2 year old daughter. Her fathers name is on her birth certificate however hasn't been in contact with her for the last year and half. He does pay Maintance but is happy to give up parental responsibility? Please help?!

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this and hope it does not come to this. If you make a will, you can use it to appoint guardians of your children in the event that anything should happen to you before they reach the age of 18. Bear in mind that if you don't appoint a guardian and your children are left without a parent before they reach the age of 18, then the courts will appoint guardians. By making an appointment in your will you can take steps to help ensure that the people whom you choose and, possibly just as importantly whom your children would choose, are appointed as guardians. I hope this helps and we wish you every success with your treatment.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-16 @ 1:01 PM
Tami - Your Question:
Hi I was wondering uf anyone could help me a friend want to give up her parent rights to her daughter how does she do this?

Our Response:
You don't say how your friend wishes to give up her parental rights, whether she wants to hand them over to the father, or put her child up for adoption. It is very rare for a court to revoke parental rights and it will usually only order this iff someone else is prepared to adopt the child. The court generally will not terminate a parent's rights if it would leave the child with only one parent responsible for the child's care and support. Your friend would have to take legal advice.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Nov-16 @ 12:27 PM
Iv recently been admitted to hospital with a life threatening illness and waiting to undergo surgery. I want to take the legal steps to ensure if anything was to happen to me during/after the surgery that my step mum will receive full custody of my 2 year old daughter. Her fathers name is on her birth certificate however hasn't been in contact with her for the last year and half. He does pay Maintance but is happy to give up parental responsibility? Please help?!
Jmonique - 13-Nov-16 @ 8:33 PM
Hi i was wondering uf anyone could help me a friend want to give up her parent rights to her daughter how does she do this?
Tami - 13-Nov-16 @ 6:16 PM
Thanks a lots for reply, appreciated your time and advice . Best of luck to your website . Debbie x
Melb - 21-Oct-16 @ 10:18 PM
Debbie- Your Question:
Hi , I got separated from my ex seven years ago and divorced 5 years ago a reason of violence. I have three children age 15,11 and 8 my ex never ever bothered to see the kids , my son was one when he left him now he doesn't know his dad at all. In mean time my ex was earning 30 000£ pr. When I applied for CSA he went on benifits.i refused that 5£ and I moved on , I got married and my kids love my partener they call him dad and he Is the dream dad for them he provides and loves them to bits, now my ex is jalouse he wants contact as he want to get bigger house on benifits he took me to court, I wrote letter explaining why I refused mediation, this man very abusive and I had Drs help for all those years and suffered depression , I was referred to victime support. This all happened 2012, I never thought he will take me to court one day as he never wanted the kids before. Please help me and advice me. Can I refuse the contact as kids don't want him at all. And I am happy for caffcasse to interview them.

Our Response:
We can't say whether the court will grant your ex access. Your older children will be able to specify a preference and Cafcass and the court will take this on board. If your younger child does not know him, then his opinions will also be taken into consideration and the court will decide upon what it thinks is in his best interests. Your ex would not be able to get a bigger house on the fact of access to your children, as the children would have to reside with him, for him to be able to do this. If your ex has had little to do with your children, if any access is granted it will be minimal to start.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Oct-16 @ 2:13 PM
Hi , I got separated from my ex seven years ago and divorced 5 years ago a reason of violence. I have three children age 15,11 and 8 my ex never ever bothered to see the kids , my son was one when he left him now he doesn't know his dad at all. In mean time my ex was earning 30 000£ pr . When I applied for CSA he went on benifits .i refused that 5£and I moved on , I got married and my kids love my partener they call him dad and he Is the dream dad for them he provides and loves them to bits, now my ex is jalouse he wants contact as he want to get bigger house on benifits he took me to court, I wrote letter explaining why I refused mediation, this man very abusive and I had Drs help for all those years and suffered depression , I was referred to victime support.... This all happened 2012, I never thought he will take me to court one day as he never wanted the kids before. Please help me and advice me . Can I refuse the contact as kids don't want him at all. And I am happy for caffcasse to interview them.
Debbie - 21-Oct-16 @ 12:13 AM
Hi SNake70. I know it's hard for you all but it's more hard for him... Please it's hard age and they all react deffrent allways remember he is your son you live him,,, try to talk to him and show him what's wrong, I got kid same age started to go in wrong way but thank a god is turned to an angel doing much much better in life and excellent in school, it killed me but I was very tough. Please what ever you do do not kick him out that will make it worse with this horrible society cruel people out there , take him on holiday to one poor country show him how ungreatful they are here in uk. Please love him more . Take care of him less freedom . God be with you all the best
Melb - 20-Oct-16 @ 11:56 PM
canny - Your Question:
Please could I have a member of staff to contact me as I am after giving up my rights to my son to his mother as horribless as it sounds it's for he best

Our Response:
We do not have a contact service. We can only give general advice online via this site.
ChildSupportLaws - 20-Oct-16 @ 2:33 PM
Please could I have a member of staff to contact me as I am after giving up my rights to my son to his mother as horribless as it sounds it's for he best
canny - 19-Oct-16 @ 11:45 PM
Hi, I was wondering if you could help. My Husband and his ex gave up their rights to their son 7 years ago after my Husband fighting to keep him, but lost. Is there anyway now that we are Married that we can start visitation/getting in contact with him via his Foster Parents and possibly adopting him if all went to plan before he turns 16 years old?? Thanks
Deb - 13-Oct-16 @ 4:04 PM
I have a teenager that doesn't want to follow any rule or been educated, he's 15, soon to be 16, comes home at 2am, has stolen money from me, from his brother and my girlfriend (not his mother) too, he's part of a gang and smokes illegal substances and I don't want him anymore near us as he could be a bad influence for his younger brother (12), has been arrested with a possession of a knife in public and been to court for it, he takes advantage of the law about child protection and stuff, what can I do? I'm desperate, I've tried every possible thing and it is not working, he just wants to be live this way and I'm not having it. Social services are on the case but all they say is that they don't have the magic stick and these things take time, I'm sorry but I'll end up waking him good time and I might be prosecuted for that and I have his little brother (he's an angel instead) to look after too. Any suggestions? Can I kick him out or so? Please!!!
Snake70 - 10-Oct-16 @ 3:20 PM
Cow bag - Your Question:
I would like to know if my ex can give up his parental rights without going to court

Our Response:
No, even if he takes the matter to court it is rare a court will withdraw parental responsibility.
ChildSupportLaws - 10-Oct-16 @ 2:05 PM
I would like to know ifmy ex can give up his parental rights without going to court
Cow bag - 10-Oct-16 @ 9:14 AM
My son was lied to by his ex saying she was on the injection and now she is pregnant although there are a few possible fathers, 'my son does not want a child especially as he was lied to, can he give up all rights and not have to support this child
Surrey - 3-Oct-16 @ 4:00 PM
Hi I was wondering if you could help im the mother of a very troubled 16 year old who is in the local authority care for over a year now, and I was wondering since I haven't signed any paperwork for her to go in their could I give up my parental rights to her
Sugarpuff6 - 27-Aug-16 @ 9:19 AM
Elvis - Your Question:
I have a daughter with my ex partner. I am now married with a child but daughter from my ex is refusing to see me and my ex is encouraging this. I would like to know if I can sign my parental rights over to the mother and also if I do will I still have to pay child mantainence. Thanks

Our Response:
I'm sorry to hear the relationship with your daughter has broken down. However, regardless of whether you see your child or not, you are still legally responsible to help towards her day-to-day care through the payment of child maintenance. You cannot 'sign away' parental rights, a court of law would have to decide this. However, it is very rare that a judge will allow the signing away of parental responsibility unless absolutely necessary. The court will always decide what is in the child's best interests and allowing a father to sign away PR and stop paying child maintenance will never be considered.
ChildSupportLaws - 25-Aug-16 @ 11:17 AM
I have a daughter with my ex partner. I am now married with a child but daughter from my ex is refusing to see me and my ex is encouraging this. I would like to know if I can sign my parental rights over to the mother and also if I do will I still have to pay child mantainence. Thanks
Elvis - 24-Aug-16 @ 5:05 PM
My eldest son's behaviour has become so unreasonable and aggressive that I am afraid to have him in the house around me and my younger children. Is there anything I can do to force his father (my ex husband) to take full custody?
Woo - 21-Aug-16 @ 2:32 PM
jen - Your Question:
My babys father isn't interested in being a dad. He doesn't want to pay maintenance and I would rather not have anything from him anyway. Is there a wayby either agreement or through solicitors he can give up any legal rights he has by being her biological dad if he were ever to put his name on the birth certificate. He has only ever seen her once.

Our Response:
If your child's father is not on the birth certificate, then he currently has no legal rights to your child. However, as the biological father there is nothing that could or would stop him applying for access if he changed his mind somewhere along the line. Whether the access would be awarded through the courts cannot be speculated upon.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Aug-16 @ 1:49 PM
My babys father isn't interested in being a dad. He doesn't want to pay maintenance and I would rather not have anything from him anyway. Is there a wayby either agreement or through solicitors he can give up any legal rights he has by being her biological dad if he were ever to put his name on the birth certificate. He has only ever seen her once.
jen - 17-Aug-16 @ 3:03 AM
Steph - Your Question:
My sister said she no longer wished to have her daughter in December 2014 due to her behaviour. she kept her eldest sister and within 10 months had another child. My niece, who is in the care of me and my husband wishes for us to adopt her, her mother does not communicate well with either of us, will not agree to mediation, refuses to give us PR and will not let my niece change her name. she is now 11 and of a mature age to request this. my sister has told us not to contact her, and also said the same to my niece. will it be difficult for us to adopt her in the UK? we need some rights over her as we cannot live by her mothers rules and lack of response for ever. her mother has not paid for her since 2014, she has nothing to do with her through her own choice. my niece does not see her sisters as her mother wont allow It. her father hasn't been involved since she was a baby. we want her to be a part of our family, and feel secure. How do we do this. Social are not much help and are all for her mother.

Our Response:
You would have to seek legal advice regarding this matter. If you are a close relative of the child, you can apply to the court for a child arrangement order, special guardianship or to adopt your niece. The courts will make a decision based on Cafcass reports and whether it feels it will be in her best interests.
ChildSupportLaws - 28-Jul-16 @ 11:15 AM
My sister said she no longer wished to have her daughter in December 2014 due to her behaviour. she kept her eldest sister and within 10 months had another child. My niece, who is in the care of me and my husband wishes for us to adopt her, her mother does not communicate well with either of us, will not agree to mediation, refuses to give us PR and will not let my niece change her name. she is now 11 and of a mature age to request this. my sister has told us not to contact her, and also said the same to my niece. will it be difficult for us to adopt her in the UK? we need some rights over her as we cannot live by her mothers rules and lack of response for ever. her mother has not paid for her since 2014, she has nothing to do with her through her own choice. my niece does not see her sisters as her mother wont allow It. her father hasn't been involved since she was a baby. we want her to be a part of our family, and feel secure. How do we do this. Social are not much help and are all for her mother.
Steph - 27-Jul-16 @ 12:36 PM
Can I hand over parental responsible to my child's grandparents??
stressed - 17-Jul-16 @ 11:49 PM
My soon to be ex husband has not seen our daughter for 3 months before that it was when he felt like it he doesn't care about her welfare at all how do I go about getting full custody ?
Munkies - 26-Jun-16 @ 5:33 PM
Kal140 - Your Question:
Hello my ex husband has agreed to terminate his rights to our 2 children as long as I pay and sort everything out but what paperwork/forms do I need to get in order and what is the process for this

Our Response:
You may wish to seek mediation regarding this, as any agreement can be drawn up and approved by the courts.
ChildSupportLaws - 14-Jun-16 @ 12:28 PM
Hello my ex husband has agreed to terminate his rights to our 2 children as long as I pay and sort everything out but what paperwork/forms do I need to get in order and what is the process for this
Kal140 - 13-Jun-16 @ 2:40 PM
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