Divorce is an emotionally overwhelming and challenging experience, but it can become even more stressful when children are involved. In such cases, parents must determine child custody and child support. As a parent, you have a right to be part of your child’s life, but it comes with certain obligations. In some cases, the court may terminate parental rights when a parent cannot provide for their child, which means they no longer have any rights to their child. This leads many parents to wonder whether they are still required to pay child support if their parental rights are terminated. Please continue reading to learn about your support obligation as a parent in Florida and how a determined Pensacola Child Support Lawyer can help you today.
Can you stop child support by signing away your parental rights?
Firstly, child support is a court-ordered payment that helps parents provide their children with the financial security they need for their welfare. In Florida, both parents have a legal obligation to support their child until the age of emancipation unless they’ve reached an agreement to provide beyond into college or professional school. However, many parents wonder whether they still have to provide child support if their parental rights have been terminated.
For parental rights to be terminated, the court must have clear and convincing evidence that taking away a parent’s rights is in the child’s best interests. Typically, the court will try to work with the parent to improve conditions for the child. However, if this is not possible, the court can terminate an individual’s parental rights. Generally, the following grounds are adequate reasons for a judge to terminate parental rights:
- Child abuse or neglect
- Willful abandonment of the child (endangerment)
- The parent’s inability to care for their child due to incapacity
- Voluntary surrender
- Sexual misconduct
- Substance abuse
Regardless of the reasoning, if your parental rights are terminated, and you owe child support that was ordered before your rights were terminated, you are still legally required to pay the amount owed. Even if a parent voluntarily waives their rights, their responsibilities, including child support, will continue except in cases where the child is given up for adoption. However, if you were not ordered to pay child support before your rights were terminated, you typically will not be held financially responsible for the child, thereby ending the child support obligation.
If you’re currently facing a child custody dispute, it’s in your best interest to contact a seasoned Pensacola child support lawyer from the legal team at The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can help fight for the support you and your child deserve.