From time to time, a client asks whether a parent can “give up his or her parental rights” in exchange for a waiver of child support. In order words, can that parent give up any parental involvement and, in return, not have to pay child support? The answer, which comes as a surprise to many people, is “no.” Simply, the State doesn’t want to encourage (or allow) people to abandon their family obligations.
Yesterday, this was again affirmed by the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In Reed v. Blanshine, 2012 WL 75202. Although the Court’s decision was based on other procedural grounds, the Court noted that “any attempt by a parent to contract away the child’s right to support is void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy.” The termination of a party’s parental rights can be accomplished only through adoption or dependency proceedings. It cannot be accomplished as part of an agreement in exchange for a waiver of child support.