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: 16 Nov 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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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
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 )
Aj - 22-Oct-17 @ 2:54 PM
Phillip - Your Question:
I recently visited a friend in the US who said she wanted me to impregnate her as she wanted a baby and would not expect anything from me of she got pregnant (which she agreed to in writing). Now that she is pregnant she is ignoring all evidence that this was the basis on which we conceived. Can I get legal recognition that I am a donor? I never had any desire to help raise the child.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, before you decided to go ahead and help your friend, you should have sought legal advice about what your position would be to donate your sperm through natural intercourse and not via official channels i.e artificial insemination. Any agreement signed on a piece of paper would be deemed invalid. Meaning you will be held responsible to financially support your child.
ChildSupportLaws - 17-Oct-17 @ 2:11 PM
I recently visited a friend in the US who said she wanted me to impregnate her as she wanted a baby and would not expect anything from me of she got pregnant (which she agreed to in writing). Now that she is pregnant she is ignoring all evidence that this was the basis on which we conceived. Can i get legal recognition that I am a donor? i never had any desire to help raise the child.
Phillip - 13-Oct-17 @ 6:48 PM
SG - Your Question:
My partner has been given a residency order via the court as the child’s father would not give his permission for the child to leave the UK. She was in a domestic abuse relationship and this was lodged in her case for the residency order. She has now left the UK as she doesn't have a Visa to be here. The father has not paid any child maintenance in 8 months saying he has it in a bank account for her if they return to UK (blackmailing her.) He has been charged with procession of cannabis with intent to sell and given a good behaviour order, this has now passed. His parents use proscription drugs with alcohol at weekends to give them a high. The child would not be safe in either the father or grandparents care. How does she go about safe guarding her child from his family if anything was to happen to her. She wishes to return to UK to continue our relationship. I would be happy to adopt her child. Could you advise what we could do?

Our Response:
Firstly, she can apply for child maintenance via REMO, as the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order (REMO) Unit helps to register and enforce child maintenance orders internationally, please see link here. If she wishes to appoint a guardian for her child (should anything happen to her), she would have to make a provision in her will. If your partner does not have a visa to return to the UK, then this is more tricky if she wishes to live in the UK as your dependent, please see gov.uk link here. There are certain requirements both you and your partner would have to fulfil in order to be able to apply.
ChildSupportLaws - 9-Oct-17 @ 11:29 AM
My partner has been given a residency order via the court as the child’s father would not give his permission for the child to leave the UK. She was in a domestic abuse relationship and this was lodged in her case for the residency order. She has now left the UK as she doesn't have a Visa to be here. The father has not paid any child maintenance in 8 months saying he has it in a bank account for her if they return to UK (blackmailing her.) He has been charged with procession of cannabis with intent to sell and given a good behaviour order, this has now passed. His parents use proscription drugs with alcohol at weekends to give them a high. The child would not be safe in either the father or grandparents care. How does she go about safe guarding her child from his family if anything was to happen to her. She wishes to return to UK to continue our relationship. I would be happy to adopt her child. Could you advise what we could do?
SG - 8-Oct-17 @ 12:36 PM
Louise - Your Question:
Hi my childrens father says he wants nothing to do with our children and wants me to get some sort of legal document in olace to either take his name of there birth certificate or get a soliciter to write a letter which we both sign saying I will never ask for money of him in the future and he will have nothing to do with us. Is this possible ??Thankyou

Our Response:
This is not possible. It is only in very rare cases that a court will take a way a parent's parental responsibility. By law he has to pay to support the day-to-day needs of his child in the form of child maintenance, whether he wants to have anything to do with his child or not.
ChildSupportLaws - 21-Sep-17 @ 12:35 PM
Hi my childrens father says he wants nothing to do with our children and wants me to get some sort of legal document in olace to either take his name of there birth certificate or get a soliciter to write a letter which we both sign saying i will never ask for money of him in the future and he will have nothing to do with us.. Is this possible ?? Thankyou
Louise - 20-Sep-17 @ 12:36 PM
Kez - Your Question:
My daughters dad has not seen or spoke to her in two years and when my daughter try's to contact him he point blanks ignores him. I have tryed to contact him and solve the situation but am no further forward. What legal route do I take as he still pays maintenance

Our Response:
I'm afraid you or a court will not force a non-resident parent to speak to their child, as doing so would not be seen in your child's best interests. However, he is still under a legal obligation to pay child maintenance regardless.
ChildSupportLaws - 18-Sep-17 @ 10:21 AM
ACDC85 - Your Question:
My 14 year old son jump out of a window and decided that he didn't want to live with me any longer- he now resides with his father. We weren't married and he was born before December 2003 however his name is on the birth certificate. Not an easy decision but how would I go about giving up my parental rights?

Our Response:
You cannot legally give up your parental rights i.e parental responsibility. A court allows this only if it absolutely necessary the parent should not be in the child's life i.e as specified, if it deems the child is at risk.
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-17 @ 3:28 PM
Ionnais - Your Question:
My ex barely sees children and has said he wants to sign over all rights to the children to me. How do we do this so that is anything happens to me then my children go to person I want and not him as he not bothered anyway

Our Response:
You cannot sign away his parental responsibility, only a court can do this and it will not unless there is a very good reason why it is in the best interests of your children. Your only recourse in this situation, is to make a provision in your will about who you wish the children to stay with (should anything happen to you), and/or through a solicitor (you can ask your ex to sign this if he agrees).
ChildSupportLaws - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:39 AM
My 14 year old son jump out of a window and decided that he didn't want to live with me any longer- he now resides with his father. We weren't married and he was born before December 2003 however his name is on the birth certificate. Not an easy decision but how would I go about giving up my parental rights?
ACDC85 - 15-Sep-17 @ 11:34 AM
My daughters dad has not seen or spoke to her in two years and when my daughter try's to contact him he point blanks ignores him. I have tryed to contact him and solve the situation but am no further forward. What legal route do I take as he still pays maintenance
Kez - 15-Sep-17 @ 8:58 AM
My ex barely sees children and has said he wants to sign over all rights to the children to me. How do we do this so that is anything happens to me then my children go to person I want and not him as he not bothered anyway
Ionnais - 14-Sep-17 @ 2:29 PM
Karlos - Your Question:
Please can someone help. I found out in 2010 that I was not the biological father of my first child. Jan 2017 my wife left the marriage. My first child has chosen to live with me in the house. I have been told that my ex is trying to get my name off the both certificate. I would expect this is for financial gain maybe. What does this mean for me and my child who is 15 years old now ?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I'm not sure what financial gain your ex could get by removing you from the birth certificate of the child unless she wanted to name the original father and/or claim child maintenance if your son lived with her. If you are not your son's biological father, this could have repercussions and may end up in court if your ex wanted to regain residency of him. However, as your son is older, his opinion would also be taken into consideration should this matter come to court. Professional legal advice may be advisable here.
ChildSupportLaws - 22-Aug-17 @ 1:01 PM
Please can someone help . I found out in 2010 that I was not the biological father of my first child . Jan 2017 my wife left the marriage. My first child has chosen to live with me in the house . I have been told that my ex is trying to get my name off the both certificate. I would expect this is for financial gain maybe . What does this mean for me and my child who is 15 years old now ?
Karlos - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:01 PM
Adam - Your Question:
Hi me ex girlfriend was sleeping around with other people and got pregnant. We didn't know who the father was until she gave birth. She contacted the CSA as she wanted money for the child whom iv never even met. I did a DNA test and to my utter devastation the child was mine! I didn't get to experience the pregnancy or the birth and as I say iv never seen the child. She also signed the birth certificate before telling me that she had even given birth so the father wouldn't be on the certificate. I now have to pay CMS payments to my cheating ex for a baby iv never met and I'm not even on the borth certificate. It saddens me to say that iv made the extremely hard decision to not be in the child's life. My question is can I give up my perental rights (that is if I have any). I hope I don't sound like an ar5e but would this mean I pay her any less in child maintenance payments? Many thanks x

Our Response:
Regardless of whether you are registered on the birth certificate, or whether you see your child, if it is proved you are the father of your child you are required by law to pay child maintenance until your child leaves full-time education.
ChildSupportLaws - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:58 PM
Hi me ex girlfriend was sleeping around with other people and got pregnant. We didn't know who the father was until she gave birth. She contacted the CSA as she wanted money for the child whom iv never even met. i did a DNA test and to my utter devastation the child was mine! I didn't get to experience the pregnancy or the birth and as I say iv never seen the child. She also signed the birth certificate before telling me that she had even given birth so the father wouldn't be on the certificate. I now have to pay CMS payments to my cheating ex for a baby iv never met and I'm not even on the borth certificate. It saddens me to say that iv made the extremely hard decision to not be in the child's life. My question is can I give up my perental rights (that is if I have any). I hope I don't sound like an ar5e but would this mean I pay her any less in child maintenance payments? Many thanks x
Adam - 29-Jul-17 @ 2:00 PM
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
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