Sometimes having a father agree to a termination of all rights to his child in exchange for waiving child support seems like a good idea to everyone. Mothers sometimes think that this is a way to avoid having to deal with shared parenting and timesharing requirements. Fathers may think that haggling time-sharing just is not worth the work. Somehow this urban myth has caught on, that Judges allow parents to “opt out” fathers from the rights and responsibilities of caring for their children.
Reality check. The law does not want children to become fatherless, because that is one fewer person on the planet who has a legal duty to care for that child, especially if anything should happen to the other parent. Judges fear that the Mother and child may end up on welfare and why should the taxpayers of Florida pay to support the child when their is a biological Father who is able to contribute.
Usually the only way for a father to actually agree and have his rights terminated is if there is a new stepfather who is legitimately willing to step in and take on that long term commitment (in other words, adopt the child). Judges will not just cut one parent loose, unless there is a legal reason to terminate their rights.
Those legal reasons would usually mean proof that any possible contact with that parent in the future would be so clearly harmful to the child that having that parent on the hook legally and financially is not worth the risk. This would usually be an action brought by the Department of Children’s and Families (DCF) or state and based on really really bad allegations. To give you an example of how bad they would be, sexual misconduct with a step child would not be enough (typically) alone to have rights to your own child terminated.
The law is so interested in not “bastardizing” children that if parents of a child get married AFTER the child is born, the child is legally considered “legitimate” as if the parents were married when they were born. Just an idea of why the system does not want to allow parents to let each other off the hook.
Andrew G. Storie is a family law and divorce attorney who serves Orlando and all of Central Florida. For more information, or if you are contemplating a divorce or modification of your parenting plan please visit http://www.storielaw.com/ or call us at (407) 838-0887