How to Voluntarily Relinquish Parental Rights in Maryland

By Brenna Davis

The relinquishment of parental rights is the giving up of parental rights to one's child or children. Relinquishing your parental rights eliminates all rights and duties you have for your child. This process cannot be reversed. Parents often give up their rights as part of an adoption proceeding. In other cases, parents may voluntarily decide to relinquish their rights when they cannot properly care for their children. All child custody decisions, including the relinquishing of rights, are made in the best interests of the child. If you wish to voluntarily give up your rights to your child or children, there are certain steps you must take to make that effective. However, If the court feels that giving up your rights voluntarily is not in your child's best interests, then the court will not allow the relinquishment.

Go to the juvenile division of the circuit court in the county in which the child resides. Juvenile court has jurisdiction over all parental rights relinquishment proceedings. Ask the clerk for a petition for relinquishment of parental rights. You may also draft your own petition, using an online legal document provider.

Note in the petition if there is a person -- such as the child's other parent, a guardian, a foster parent or an adoptive parent -- to whom you would like to relinquish rights. Also note in the petition if there is a specific reason why you are relinquishing parental rights. Complete the petition and return it to the clerk, along with a filing fee. The clerk will schedule a hearing on the matter.

Attend the hearing. The judge may ask questions about why you wish to terminate rights. Judges are more likely to grant a relinquishment if a child is in foster care, if there is a prospective adoptive parent or if the child does not live with the parent. After hearing your perspective, the judge may interview other people close to the child such as the other parent, foster parents or court-appointed special advocates who represent the children's best interests in these proceedings. If the judge agrees that a relinquishment is in the child's best interests, he will issue an order to terminate your parental rights.


You cannot relinquish parental rights to avoid child support payments, and you may still be obligated to pay back child support payments, even if your rights are terminated. Your rights may be involuntarily terminated if you have abused your child, committed a crime or have exhibited a substance abuse problem.