Can I terminate my parental rights?

Asked about 1 year ago - New York, NY

I'm a father and wish to have nothing to do with my unborn child. Can I terminate my parental rights before he is born?

Additional information

Why are women legally allowed to terminate their obligations by having an abortion without the fathers consent then? It seems to me that the law is not fair, why are all men standing by and allowing this inequity to exist? Why have no attorneys stood up to this and challenged these laws in Supreme Court?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Jack Richard Lebowitz

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    Answered . No.

    You can have nothing to do with the child, but you can't unilaterally terminate your parental rights, especially if the mother or the Department of Social Services seeks child support, unless the child is formally adopted by an adoptive or step father (which is obviously up to the mother).

    You can have nothing to do with the child -- visitation or custody is optional, but child support is mandatory if the mother petitions for support until the child reaches 21 years of age.

    This answer is provided under the Avvo.com “Terms and Conditions of Use” (“ToU”), particularly ¶9 which states... more
  2. Paul Karl Siepmann

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    Answered . You can certainly decide to not exercise any parental rights, but you will not be able to terminate any of your parental obligations to pay child support.

    I am not your attorney and any posts/messages or responses to posts/messages can not establish an attorney-client... more
  3. Jayson Lutzky

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    Answered . In NY the woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Once you have relationship with someone, then it is their choose to have the child or terminate the pregnancy. You do not have to do anythng with the child except pay child support, child care, Medical insurance, medical copayment, and possibly educational expenses. If the mother decides to have someone else adopt the child, then you can terminate your rights and let the other person adopt the child.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate... more
  4. Paula Brown Sinclair

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    Answered . Mr. Lebowitz and Mr. Siepmann are absolutely correct. The legal system, the courts, and the taxpayers to not allow parents to walk away from their obligation to support the children they bring into the world. By and by, if the day comes when the child's mother is married to a more responsible man who wishes to voluntarily adopt your child, you may wish to cooperate in the termination of your parental rights as part of that process.

    Regarding your complaint that a mother can terminate a pregnancy, but fathers are helpless, please consider this: you know exactly how pregnancy occurs, and you had two excellent opportunities to prevent this pregnancy-- abstaining, and protecting. You made choices that now have consequences. It is time to quit acting like the victim and figure out how you are going to support your child.

    Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.

    This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    Doesn't the same hold true for women who choose to abort? They know how to prevent unwanted children as well. So the law is still unequal will you agree?

    Jack Richard Lebowitz
    Jack Richard Lebowitz, Family Law Attorney - Glens Falls, NY
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    There are a lot of people in this country and probably four Supreme Court justices, who think abortion should be illegal as it once was, or the laws are more restrictive. Your inequality complaint is with biology, not the law.

    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    What about safe haven laws?

    Paula Brown Sinclair
    Paula Brown Sinclair, Family Law Attorney - Twin Falls, ID
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    What "dafe haven laws?"

    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe-haven_law

    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    Safe-haven laws are statutes in the United States that decriminalize the leaving of unharmed infants with statutorily designated private persons so that the child becomes a ward of the state. "Safe-haven" laws typically let mothers remain nameless to the court, often using a numbered bracelet system as the only means of linking the baby to the mother. Some states treat safe-haven surrenders as child dependency or abandonment, with a complaint being filed for such in juvenile court. The parent either defaults or answers the complaint. Others treat safe-haven surrenders as adoption surrenders, hence a waiver of parental rights. Police stations, hospitals, rescue squads, and fire houses are all typical locations to which the safe-haven law applies.

    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    Can I take the baby to a safe haven location to terminate my parental rights and responsibilities? It seems that this is what the safe haven law provides to mothers. Does it also apply to fathers or is this a situation of unequal rights between men and women?

    Jack Richard Lebowitz
    Jack Richard Lebowitz, Family Law Attorney - Glens Falls, NY
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    Unequal rights if the mother doesn't want to give up the child I guess. Better "luck" next time (consider wrapping that rascal).

    No photo
    Asker
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    So I'm being told that I have less rights than a woman in this regards. Thank you Mr. Lebowitz for your confirmation! It's amazing how the power has turned and women have more rights than men in many of the most important aspects of life these days. I've marked your answer as the best and most helpful. If I do still bring my baby to a safe haven will I face criminal charges?

    Paula Brown Sinclair
    Paula Brown Sinclair, Family Law Attorney - Twin Falls, ID
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    Asker: This "safe-haven" business is a joke, right? So you won't have to pay child support you want to take a helpless infant away from its mother and leave in on someone's doorstep? What kind of pervert are you? Most fortunately, the law does not afford you that "right.":

    Jack Richard Lebowitz
    Jack Richard Lebowitz, Family Law Attorney - Glens Falls, NY
    Posted about 1 year ago.

    The safe haven idea was that if an unwed mother couldn't cope with having a child, she was encouraged to drop it off at a safe place so as not to commit murder and being charged with a crime, like the high school girl who put a newborn baby in a trash can. It was a turn the other cheek kind of gesture, like needle exchange programs for addicts, or allowing people to take heroin overdose victims to a hospital without being charged with drug possession or murder, with a practical means of avoiding a greater harm to society than strict law enforcement would encourage.

    On the other hand, our civil rights rules are that you cannot force a woman to have an abortion. That's choice. If she wants to have the baby, she can, and no one can force her not to or to force her to give up the child for adoption, whether that be the boyfriend/father or her family, or the church or whatever. We tried it the other way, not allowing unwed mothers to have abortions or making them give up the babies for adoption because they weren't married. After the mid-20th century, in the US, we as a society collectively decided it was OK for women to have abortions or not or for unwed single mothers to have a baby if they wanted. You just got caught in the crossfire. No good solution, but if you have a child you have to help support it and you have no say in the abortion/adoption or not matter. If that strikes you as unfair, perhaps it is, but there is no good solution and I can't see a Family Court determining that a pregnant girl is not a fit mother on the petition of the putative father and ordering her to have an abortion, can you?

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