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Does Indiana Law prevent a Father from giving up his parental rights?

Huntingburg, IN |

I recently started dating a young mother with a 22 month old son from her High School days. The Father wants nothing to do with the child. I asked her why doesn't he give up his right, granting her sole custody/rights. All she said is they have talked about it but legally she doesn't think they can do that? Is there a law in the state of Indiana that prevents a Father from WILLINGLY signing off on his child? Any help would be appreciated.

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Attorney answers 3


In most states, a parent cannot give up their rights - or responsibilities - to a child unless another adult is prepared to step in and adopt the child.

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She's right. The reason for this rule is that generally it is almost always in the child's best interest for both parents to support the child. Even if Dad does not want to see the child or pay child support and Mom does not want his help, under the law he has a duty to provide support. Parents can't file their own termination petition but DCS or an adoption agency can file a petition to terminate parental rights in order to facilitate an adoption or protect a child who is being abused or neglected. If you were considering adopting your girlfriend's son, it would be possible for the father to terminate his parental rights in that proceeding.


He can absolutely sign over certain "rights" - like, he can sign a document giving your girlfriend sole custody, for example. But that won't relieve him of his obligation to the child, as far as paying child support, potentially helping with college expenses, etc.

Kate Flood
Indianapolis divorce attorney

The foregoing is not intended to be specific legal advice, but rather general information. Because of the nature of this online, non-confidential forum, and because each and every family law case is different, it is impossible for any attorney to consider all of the facts of your specific case and provide a concrete answer. If you require specific legal advice, you should retain a qualified attorney in your area.