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Termination of parental rights means no child support

The majority of people know what their responsibilities are when it comes to caring for their children. Unfortunately for parents who have had their parental rights terminated, the issues of what they are legally responsible for becomes murky. However, a recent ruling may set a precedent regarding a parent’s responsibility to pay child support across the country, including in Massachusetts.

This particular case began in 1984 with a married couple. The couple had two children before their marriage disintegrated, and they were granted a divorce in 1990. At the time, the husband was required to pay child support. However, three years later, the mother claimed that the man was mentally and physically abusing the children and requested that his parental rights be terminated. The court granted her request, making no mention of child support.

Although the man made some payments toward supporting his children after the termination of his rights, he was ultimately ordered to pay over $100,000 in support in 2010. The father appealed the case to a higher court, who recently ruled in his favor. In a unanimous ruling, the higher court stated that the termination of parental rights ends all connection between the parent and child, including the payment of child support.

While the ruling in this case likely gave no one a completely happy ending, it is certainly understandable to some that the case ended in the way it did. While most would like to see the children well-cared for, the courts have to also consider how state laws in Massachusetts consider the responsibilities of parents who have no rights in regards to their children in terms of requiring child support. One can only hope that the court’s ruling in this case can provide some sort of peace to both the parents and the children.

Source: Albuquerque Journal News, “Court: Father doesn’t have to pay child support,” Scott Sandlin, July 31, 2013

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