Being a parent is a tough job and a huge responsibility. Depending on who you talk to, it may very well be the toughest gig around. Rewarding, fulfilling, and worthwhile, it’s also demanding, draining, and not for everyone. Is it possible, for those so inclined, to sign away parental rights?
Some people take to parenthood naturally. Others, however, grit their teeth and power through out of obligation. But for those who just don’t get the hang of it, have zero interest, or are otherwise incapable, are there other options? If you want to relinquish these duties, is it possible to sign away parental rights in Oregon?
Is it possible to sign away parental rights in Oregon?
The short answer to this question is: No.
Neither parent can terminate their custodial duties and obligations and just walk away.
Once you bring a child into this world, unless you give it up for adoption, it’s your duty and you remain responsible. You can find caveats and workarounds, but in a general sense, that’s how the law works.
Many factors push a person towards wanting to sign away parental rights. Issues with addiction, mental illness, or abuse all often play a role. Maybe your ex has made it clear you’re no longer welcome in your child’s life. If a child is old enough, he or she may also be able to communicate this desire.
Whatever the circumstances, this is an intense situation and not a decision to be made lightly.
Related Reading: Best Interests Of The Child
Can Parental Rights Be Taken Away By The State?
While neither you nor your spouse can sign away parental rights on your own accord, the state can step in and terminate them.
In the case the court deems you unfit to care for a child, or even stay a part of his or her life, they often intercede. This usually happens after lengthy court proceedings. In most cases, this occurs if a parent poses a threat to the health and well-being of the kids.
Adoption as an Alternative
As we mentioned, there is one situation where it’s possible to willingly sign away parental rights. If you and your spouse divorce, and they marry someone else, the new spouse can legally adopt your child.
In Oregon, this is the only circumstance where a parent can sign away parental rights voluntarily.
Once such an adoption becomes final, the new parent assumes all rights and obligations. You will no longer be on the hook for child support, child custody, visitation, or any other commitments or requirements.
On the other hand, you also give up any legal right to be involved in the child’s life at any point in the future. It’s a major decision, not one to be taken lightly.
That said, if there are preexisting responsibilities, like unpaid child support, those remain on your plate. Such debts are enforceable and collectible and are not conveyed to the adoptive parent.
If you owe money, you remain obligated to deliver that amount.
Related Reading: Oregon Child Custody Evaluations: What To Expect
As family courts generally place the well-being of any minor children above other concerns, they base any decisions on the best interests of the child or children in question. If a child could potentially lose financial support, you most likely won’t be able to legally sever your connection, even in the case of adoption.
You can, however, effectively remove yourself from your child’s life. If that’s the choice you want to make.
In this situation, you still must continue to pay any child support ordered by the court.
Though you may be compelled to participate financially, you can forgo any other involvement in your child’s life. This includes visitation, decision making, and more. In this manner, you remove yourself without actually having to sign away parental rights.
This strategy also leaves the door open for a relationship down the road. Whatever your current issues, whatever the reasons that drove you to want to sign away parental rights in the first place, they may not always be such a barrier between you and your children.
Perhaps eventually you still have hope for reconciliation. Maybe not, but relationships change and evolve over time. Whatever problems exist, you may be able to fix them at some point.
This is not an easy situation. No doubt the surrounding circumstances must be extreme to make you want to sign away parental rights. However, unless very specific requirements are met, this is not an option. Though, as stated above, there are ways to accomplish this if it’s truly what’s best for your life and your children.
Related Reading: Third-Party Custody and Grandparents Have Child Custody Rights?