Co-parenting after a split is often very frustrating and time consuming. A very common question from my clients is whether the other parent can simply “sign away” their parental rights. This is usually in response to a parent who is not especially concerned with the child but uses parenting time as a weapon. Oftentimes, these types of parents will appear sporadically and cause chaos with routines and schedules, just to irritate the parent who does the heavy work of child raising every day.
Under Ohio law, a parent cannot easily “sign away” his parental rights and responsibilities. There are only two situations in Ohio where this can occur. The most common surrender of parental rights occurs in adoptions. Provided a second suitable adult is stepping up to take responsibility for the child, a parent can voluntarily waive his parental rights.
Under Ohio law, voluntary termination of parental rights by a parent is required for an adoption unless “the court, after proper service of notice and hearing, finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has failed without justifiable cause to provide more than de minimis contact with the minor or to provide for the maintenance and support of the minor as required by law or judicial decree for a period of at least one year immediately preceding either the filing of the adoption petition or the placement of the minor in the home of the petitioner.” ORC. 3107.07(A). This is a situation where parental rights can be terminated without the parent’s consent.
The second scenario where a parent can surrender his parental rights occurs when a parent surrenders the child into the permanent custody of the Ohio public children services agency. This occurs when a parent feels incapable of caring for his child or believes that there are grounds for the court to terminate his rights because of abuse or neglect. This involves a contract with the agency surrendering the child to the permanent custody of the state. An agency that enters into such an agreement may take and care for the child or place the child in a family home. ORC 5103.15(B)(1).
Neither of these scenarios offer much hope to the frustrated parent who wishes the other parent would drop out of the picture. Unless it’s an adoption or surrender to the Ohio children’s services agency for abuse or neglect, the other parent is probably still in the picture.