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Voluntarily Surrendering Parental Rights in Maryland

by | Aug 25, 2022 | Child Custody, Divorce

Why do people surrender their parental rights?

There are many reasons why people choose to give up parental rights. They may have a history of drug or alcohol addiction. A parent could have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to a long prison term. They could also have been declared legally insane and ordered to live in a mental institution. Another common reason is that one parent has gotten remarried or moved to another state or country and wants nothing to do with their former family.

When a couple remarries, the new spouse may want to adopt their new partner’s children. This may necessitate the former spouse’s surrender of parental rights in some instances. Step-parent adoption is very common and can be a good way for a child to obtain the love and support that a biological parent may not have been able to provide on a consistent basis.

Parental rights can also be terminated involuntarily as well. This may be necessary if the parent has exhibited a pattern of abuse, violence or neglect toward their children. Having a court intervene to end that person’s parental rights may be required if they are in the best interests of the affected children.

Can I voluntarily give up my parental rights?

Parents are allowed to legally surrender their parental rights in the state of Maryland if they so choose. A court order is usually required in those instances. The order will effectively end that person’s rights as a parent effective on the date that the order is first issued.

Once you’ve decided to give up your parental rights, you can’t go back. Parents aren’t allowed to change their mind on this matter. They can’t decide that they suddenly want to be a part of their child’s life after a certain number of months or years. It’s up to the child at that point to determine if they want to have any contact with that parent.

What is parental abandonment?

Parental abandonment is defined differently from one state to the next. Abandonment of a child in the state of Maryland is currently listed as intentional parental actions or conduct that show their intentions of forsaking the child and relinquishing their parental rights and responsibilities. Failure to care for a child, desertion and abandonment may be viewed as parental abandonment.

A child may be abandoned by a parent by many ways. They could be barred from attending family events, left at home for many hours while their parent is at work or out with friends, or be cut off financially or emotionally. This type of treatment can lead to severe mental and emotional problems for some children that may take years of therapy to resolve.

What is malicious parent syndrome?

Malicious parent syndrome can occur when one parent punishes the other parent. They may physically or verbally abuse them. The offender could also try to portray their partner in a negative light, so that their child will favor them unfairly.

A parent may call their former partner names, spread nasty rumors about them or fabricate stories. They could intentionally bad-mouth them in public or at family gatherings. They may try to coerce their children to not want anything to do with the other parent.

One or both parents may use these tactics to pit their children against their spouse for various reasons. It’s not surprising that this type of behavior is usually mentioned when a separation or divorce is sought. This kind of behavior is not acceptable for any reason. It can also backfire on the perpetrator during divorce proceedings.

If a history of malicious behavior or actions can be proven in court, a judge may be more sympathetic toward the person who was the target of those acts. The judge may rule in their favor in terms of child support, child visitation and alimony. The offender could also be ordered to attend counseling to prevent such behaviors and actions from happening in the future.

What do I need to do to surrender my parental rights?

A petition will need to be filed in the respective local court. This must be done before the child in question turns 18. The case may be heard before a juvenile court. The person asking to end their parental rights (also referred to as the petitioner) may represent themself or enlist the aid of legal counsel.

If the court agrees with the request, an order will be issued. That order will effectively end the parental rights for the petitioner. Both parents will receive a copy of the order.

Read the order carefully so that you fully understand what can and cannot be done. You can talk to the judge or your lawyer if you have concerns regarding the order. Keep a copy of the order in a safe place so that you can refer back to it as needed.

Do I still need to pay child support if I gave up my parental rights voluntarily?

A person who voluntarily surrenders their parental rights will no longer be required to pay child support. They will also not be allowed to visit the child on a regular basis or make any decisions regarding the child’s schooling, health or other important matters. You should be informed as to when child visitation and child support will end if you’ve received an order that terminates your parental rights.

This isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. If you’re considering giving up your parental rights, you may want to have a conversation with your spouse or partner and your children if necessary. Explain your reasons and listen to any objections or suggestions that are given. Children should not be made to feel like this is their fault. In most cases, it isn’t.

If you have questions about ending your parental rights, we have plenty of answers. Contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation. We’ll sit down and listen to what you have to say. Our trained experts can offer valuable advice and represent you in court if you wish. Whatever your reasons may be, we know how difficult this life change can be. Getting you back on track to feeling happier, healthier and more productive is our ultimate goal.