Signing Over Rights: Part Three
When I hear a parent saying that they lost their rights to their child, my first thought is always that the state took custody or the child was adopted; as those are the only ways a parent can lose their rights over a child. Even when a parent elects a guardian for the child, the parent does not relinquish his or her rights, they merely delegate his or her decision-making authority to someone else for a time. What many people mean when they say they lost their rights, is they have been granted little or no decision-making authority and received extremely limited visitation with the child.
While it can certainly feel as though parent’s rights have been terminated, when they have no decision- making authority over his or her child, it is important to know that parental rights still exist. What’s more, until a child turns 18 and become emancipated, aging out of the court’s authority to enforce a custody order, a custody order can always be modified.
By modifying a previous custody order, a parent can alter the custody and visitation awards to re-establish contact and decision-making authority. In order to seek a Modification, the moving party needs to demonstrate to the court, that there has been a significant change in circumstance necessitating a modification of the original decree. Now, how likely and drastic a court will modify a previous custody order will depend upon the specific circumstances of the case. But, it is important to know, if you ever find yourself in a restrictive custody situation, that your rights have not been lost, and your contact with your children can be re-established.