Parents have many obligations to their children, even if they are no longer with the child’s other parent. However, when the parental rights of one party are terminated, the relationship and responsibilities change significantly. Understanding what it means to terminate parental rights is essential, and you’ll also want to know whether or not child support payments will continue. The following blog explores what you must know about these circumstances and how a Somerset County family law attorney can assist you with any questions or concerns you have.
What Are the Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights?
In New Jersey, it’s crucial to understand that the state takes the termination of parental rights very seriously. This is not something that will be decided quickly, as there are many factors that must be considered, including whether or not the parent truly understands the impact of their decision if it is voluntary.
If you want to voluntarily relinquish your rights as a parent, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. However, this is almost exclusively granted when there is another adult, such as the new spouse of the custodial parent or a couple, who is going to adopt the child.
In some instances, the state may step in to terminate the parent’s rights, regardless of whether or not this is their wish. However, this only happens in extreme circumstances, like abuse, neglect, or an unsafe environment.
Does This End My Obligation to Pay Child Support?
As of 2017, New Jersey has determined that, in most instances, child support will continue until the age of 19. However, if your parental rights are terminated, this can change your obligations, depending on the circumstances.
Generally, once your parental rights have been terminated, you no longer have to pay child support. This is because your legal obligations to the child are severed and applied to their adoptive parent(s). As such, if you give your child up for adoption at birth or their stepparent adopts them, you are no longer financially obligated to support the child.
However, it is essential to note that if your rights are terminated, and you owe unpaid child support, you must still meet these obligations. For example, if you owe six months’ worth of support, this will not be absolved upon the termination of your rights. The child is still entitled to the funds they are owed, as these were ordered when you still had rights.
Whether you’re a parent looking to terminate your parental obligations so your child’s other parent’s new spouse can adopt them or your ex-spouse wants to terminate their rights, and you’re wondering how that will impact payments, this process can be incredibly complex. That’s why the team at the Siragusa Law Firm is ready to help you during these challenging times. We understand that child support can be a point of contention for many couples. As such, we will do everything possible to help you and prioritize the child’s best interest. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.