I am the non-custodial parent of a daughter who no longer wishes to see me, which I have accepted. My ex-wife says she will drop my child support, but that the only way Georgia will stop the child support order is if I terminate my parental rights.
Can the custodial parent have child support canceled? Do have to terminate my parental rights in order for the child support order to be canceled?
I am only licensed to practice law in Texas. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of Georgia, but Cordell & Cordell has attorneys who are licensed and located in Georgia who would be happy to arrange a consultation.
To answer your first question, many jurisdictions, such as Texas where I practice, allow parents to enter into an Agreed Order to terminate child support obligations. In other words, if both parties agree that child support will end, they can execute the documents or forms necessary to do so without interference from the state child support agency. This sometimes happens when both parties share equal time with the child and have nearly equal earnings, or, if they simply agree for other reasons.
The custodial parent is usually the person who has the right to receive the child support, so his or her signature on such an agreement is usually a necessary requirement. In Texas, it is unlikely the child support agency would interfere with an agreement entered into by the custodial parent.
However, some states may require a judge to review the agreement, and therefore may refuse to discontinue child support if the judge believes the agreement is not in the best interest of the child. Each state has different requirements as to what documents or forms are necessary to be filed with the Court to make this agreement valid, so you will need to consult with an attorney licensed in your state to be sure you are doing everything correctly.
Under Texas law, termination of parental rights does not necessarily terminate the obligation to provide child support (unless the termination is occurring so that someone else, such as a step-parent, can adopt the child). Under most jurisdictions, the rights a parent has to their children are entirely separate from the duties a parent has towards their children.
Parental rights include things such as the right to visitation, to receive information about your child’s health care, to consult with the other parent regarding the child’s education, and even to possibly receive a portion of your child’s earnings (your previous Decree, Order, or state statutes should outline what rights you currently have).
Parental duties include things such as paying child support and providing for the physical well being of your child. The Court’s obligation is to ensure that measures taken are in the best interest of the child, and children need to be provided for, so a termination of parental rights does not necessarily terminate parental duties. In other words, a parent’s decision to voluntarily give up his or her rights to visitation, etc., may not have any effect on his or her obligations to still provide for the child through child support.
In addition to consulting with an attorney licensed in Georgia, you should consider the following: (1) Whether or not the benefit stopping child support outweighs the rights you would retain to your daughter outside of visitation, (2) the fact that your daughter is young and could change her mind about visitation later, (3) a termination of parental rights may also prohibit you from inheriting from your child or your child inheriting from you or your family in your state, and (4) that a termination of parental rights is permanent and cannot be undone later.
Rachel A. Brucks is a Staff Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Brucks is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Brucks received her Bachelors degrees in English and Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her Masters in Literature and Gender Studies from Texas State University, San Marcos; and received her Juris Doctor from Southern Methodists University, Dallas.