Ohio law permits the biological father to surrender his parental rights in an adoption situation. The state can also intervene and terminate parental rights involuntarily if the father abandons, abuses or neglects the child. It's usually the adoption or state agency involved in the case, rather than a parent, that files the court paperwork. Whatever the background, the court will only terminate a father's rights if it is in the best interest of the child.
Voluntary Consent in Adoption Situations
In Ohio, an adoption agency or the child's adoptive parents can file an adoption petition with the Ohio probate court. The paperwork might include written consent signed by the father confirming that he wishes to terminate his parental rights so the child can be adopted. Biological fathers routinely surrender their parental rights when, for example, the mother's new spouse wishes to adopt the child. The court can also terminate the father's rights without consent if he has not contacted the child or provided support for at least one year prior to the adoption proceedings.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Ohio's child welfare agency can file a motion to terminate parental rights if the child has been abandoned, neglected or knowingly placed in danger – for example, if the biological father has remained completely uninvolved with the child since her birth. Other grounds include sexual offenses and felony criminal conviction. Even if a ground is established, termination is not guaranteed. The court decides whether to terminate parental rights in Ohio, always looking at what is in the best interest of the child.
Court Process for Termination of Rights
Court processes differ depending on whether the father's rights are being relinquished voluntarily or being terminated at the request of a state agency. In either case, an Ohio father has the right to receive notice of the petition and related court proceedings. He is also entitled to attend a hearing before the judge and testify on his own behalf. In deciding whether to terminate parental rights, the court will review the evidence and testimony from all relevant parties, which might include evidence from the child.
Best Interest of the Child
The court will terminate the parent-child attachment only if it is in the best interest of the child. If the biological father is unable to provide support, for example, but there is no danger to the child, then the court might leave parental rights intact so that the child can continue to enjoy contact with his father. Termination of parental rights severs all ties between the biological father and child. The father can no longer visit the child and is not obligated to pay child support. Once parental rights have been terminated, they cannot be restored.