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Can a father terminate his parental rights to terminate his child support payments?

September 21, 2011

The answer is no. On August 25, 2011, the California Court of Appeal issued an unpublished opinion (that means it cannot be cited or relied upon by other Courts) that was interesting in its analysis. The opinion in the case of Snyder, the Court said:

“termination of parental rights and responsibilities is not authorized when a parent simply wishes to terminate the financial burden of supporting the children. One of the statutory grounds for termination must be shown and the court must find that termination would be in the best interest of the children. The trial court found that termination of father’s parental rights and responsibilities would not be in the best interest of the children. Father has not demonstrated that the trial court’s finding is not supported by substantial evidence. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to terminate on the ground termination would not be in the best interest of the children……… Under section 7822, subdivision (a)(3) [of the California Family Code], termination of parental rights and responsibilities is authorized when the parent leaves the child in the custody of the other parent for one year without communication and with intent to abandon the child, and termination is in the best interest of the child. Father’s motion did not evidence an intent to abandon his children. It indicated the children were in mother’s custody pursuant to court order; the lack of communication was caused by mother’s removal of the children to Colorado, the restraining orders against him, and the children’s failure to make the phone calls to him that the court ordered them to make.” The motion expressed father’s frustration with being required to support his children financially, while having his efforts to remain a part of his children’s lives impeded. The motion, however, focused on father’s situation. It did not discuss the children or offer any reasoned argument why terminating his parental rights and responsibilities would be in the best interest of the children.”
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