“Signing away” your rights to a child

There seems to be an idea floating around out there that if a parent desires neither to pay child support nor to have a relationship with his or her child, he or she can simply “sign away” his or her rights to the child – wash his or her hands of the child entirely and be done with any rights and/or responsibilities he or she would otherwise have as a parent.

Not so fast.

In a recent decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals, the Court was not amused by such kind of arrangements.  “The concept of parents negotiating away parenting time as a means to eliminate the obligation to pay child support is repugnant and contrary to public policy.”  The Court went on to add that “It is incomprehensible to this Court to imagine that either parent would ever stipulate to give up parenting time in lieu of not paying support.  Just as allowing an agreement to contract away a child’s right to support must be held void, an agreement to contract away a child’s right to parenting time, where the presumption that such parenting time is in the child’s best interest has not been defeated, must also be held void as a matter of public policy.  Every child deserves better than to be treated as nothing more than a bargaining chip.”

If you find yourself in a situation where “signing away” rights to a child – either yours or the other parent’s – seems like a good option, you will discover that the Courts are not going to be friendly to that point of view.  There are many tools that we CAN use to come up with a parenting time arrangement and child support obligation that may be satisfactory to you, while also passing muster with the Court, but I would recommend in situations like these that you hire a competent family law practitioner to guide you on this path.

Best of luck,

 

Kate Flood

Indianapolis divorce lawyer

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