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Can the father of an unborn child voluntarily relinquish his parental rights?

New York, NY |

I am the mother of a 23 year old daughter who has had problems and is now pregnant by a 32 year old man. The father wants nothing to do with the child. He says he is willing to sign a waiver of all this parental rights, a relinquishment of any rights to the child. This is perfectly fine with us; in fact, this is what we want. This is in New York.

Is this possible? If so, how? Or do we have to wait until the baby is born? Does it have to be approved by the Court? Or can we simply make a written agreement?

I know I will eventually need a lawyer, but I want to get as much background as possible first.

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Attorney answers 5


No - unless the child is to be adopted by another party, he cannot voluntarily relinquish his parental rights.

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The only way for the parent to voluntary surrender rights is in an adoption.

The above answer is intended for informational purposes and is not legal advice. It does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship.


Only if the child is adopted by someone else.

I am an attorney with over a decade of experience in Matrimonial and Family Law with offices in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I have experience in all five boroughs as well is Nassau and Suffolk County. The opinion expressed in this ad based upon the limited information provided and do not indicate an attorney-client relationship


New York public policy forbids the bastardization of children. As such, unless she's wanting someone else to adopt the child, then he cannot surrender his parental rights. That said, if he ever tries to petition for visitation, she can counter-sue for support. Schedule a consult with a NYC Child Custody lawyer for a full assessment.

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I agree with my colleagues - NO, unless the child is adopted. And no agreement to avoid child support is enforceable if there is a possibility that the child may need public assistance (welfare) when there is a parent with the ability to financially support the child.

In short, you cannot do anything of the kind. I would suggest that your daughter engage the services of a family law attorney immediately (she is an adult, and you cannot handle her legal affairs unless given power of attorney) to discuss options.

If she cannot afford one, the family law section of the NYC courts can offer referrals to free and low-income legal assistance.

This does not constitute legal advice or the engagement of my services as an attorney.

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