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Can a parent surrender their parental rights?

For various reasons, some New Jersey parents may decide it best to surrender their parental rights. While such actions are both legally permissible and advisable in certain situations, guardians remain bound by state rules pertaining to adoption actions.

In order to surrender a biological or legal child, parents have to submit written requests to the New Jersey court system. These requests need to include signed confirmation that the parents agree to the adoption procedure, confirmation that the child is not a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe and dates that the parents can appear at a hearing. The hearing itself is generally held within a week of the initial filing, and courts use it to decide whether the surrender of parental rights was actually voluntary.

If their surrender of rights is successful, parents seeking to put their children up for adoption lose the right to contact and maintain relationship with their children, and they are not entitled to receive updates after the ongoing adoption. In some cases, parents may be able to petition for expedited hearings, but it is important to remember that courts hold say over the proceedings. Parents who fail to file correctly may be ordered to amend their petitions, and adoptive parents are subject to background checks.

New Jersey family law can be complex when guardianship is transferred and family relationships change. The legal costs associated with adoption and relinquishing of parental rights vary based on the circumstances under which such family transitions take place, and mistakes could result in the need for refiling procedures, court-ordered amendments or additional delays. Parents may find that working with legal advisers helps them approach the process in a more organized, efficient fashion.

Source: New Jersey Courts, "5:10-7. Judicial Surrender of Parental Rights", October 29, 2014

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