Monday, May 7, 2012

Waiving Parental Rights in Florida

Another question that seems to come up over and over is the waiver of parental rights. Can a biological parent "sign away" their rights?

Often I receive phone calls from a mother who doesn't want her child's father involved with the child. The mother is willing to waive child support if the father would sign away his rights to the child. Others call wanting to know if such an agreement is valid.

These agreements are invalid. A parent may not simply "waive" his (or her) parental rights. The Courts in Florida have long held that "agreements relieving a parent of the duty to support [i.e. pay child support] are void as against public policy. The rights of support and meaningful relationship belong to the child, not the parent; therefore, neither parent can bargain away those rights ... [A] total abdication of parental responsibility ..... cannot be said to protect the best interests of the child." Bassett v Saunders, 835 So. 2d 1198, 1200 (Fla App., 2002).

The main (and perhaps only) exception to this rule occurs during a step-parent adoption. In such a case, the Courts find that such an "abdication of parental responsibility" would be in the child's best interest - because there is a person to take the place of the biological parent.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer.


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