You would have to prove "extreme parental disinterest". Or the Court would have to find it in the best interest of the child for the father to have no involvement (legal/financial). That is tough to do and must meet specific requirements. It is usually not done.
22.2 VOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS (RELINQUISHMENT): PROCEDURE
Occasionally, parents who are parties to an abuse and neglect action decide to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. Relinquishment can be a positive gesture that allows a parent a greater sense of dignity and control than a full-blown contested termination of parental rights trial.
A relinquishment to CYFD is heard in the context of the existing abuse and neglect proceeding, if a proceeding is pending, and is not a separate judicial proceeding. §32A-5-24(A). A parent may relinquish parental rights to CYFD only with CYFD's consent. §32A-5-23(B).
Relinquishment usually occurs as adoption plans are being made. However, relinquishment is sometimes sought where the likelihood of adoption is remote, as where the other parent does not want to relinquish his or her parental rights. If a proposed relinquishment of parental rights is not in contemplation of adoption, under §32A-5-24(C) the court may not allow the relinquishment unless it finds that:
* Good cause exists;
* CYFD has made reasonable efforts to preserve the family; and
* Relinquishment is in the child's best interest.
A parent who relinquishes under this subsection remains financially responsible for the child and the court may order the parent to pay the reasonable costs of the child's support. §32A-5-24(C).
22.4 INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS: GROUNDS
The court is required under the termination of parental rights, or TPR, statute to give "primary consideration to the physical, mental and emotional welfare and needs of the child, including the likelihood of the child being adopted if parental rights are terminated." §32A-4-28(A). The court should consider, for example, whether the child, if aged 10 or over, will consent to an adoption. If the child won't agree, an adoption is not likely. §32A-5-17.
There are three specific grounds for termination of parental rights in New Mexico:
* Failure to ameliorate the causes and conditions of the abuse and neglect, despite reasonable efforts by CYFD.
* Disintegration of the parent-child relationship accompanied by a psychological parent-child relationship between the child and his caretaker.
At least one of the grounds must be pled and proven with some specificity for TPR to occur. In the Matter of the Termination of Parental Rights with respect to R.W. 108 N.M. 332, 335-336 (Ct. App. 1989).
The TPR statute, §32A-4-28, does not define abandonment but the term is defined elsewhere in the Abuse and Neglect Act. As defined in § 32A-4-2(A), abandonment includes instances where the parent, without justifiable cause:
* Left the child without provision for the child's identification for a period of 14 days; or
* Left the child with others, including the other parent or an agency, without provision for support and without communication for a period of:
O three months if the child was under six years of age at the commencement of the three-month period; or
O six months if the child was over six years of age at the commencement of the six-month period.
If a parent seeks reunification with an infant left at a hospital in accordance with the Safe Haven for Infants Act, there is no presumption of abuse or neglect provided the parent seeks reunification within 30 days of the date the infant was left. §24-22-7, enacted in 2001
Appellate courts have found abandonment in a variety of circumstances, including:
* Parental neglect, lack of affection shown toward the child, failure to contact the child, failure to support the child if able to do so and disregard for the child's welfare. In the Matter of the Termination of Parental Rights with respect to C.P. 103 N.M. 617, 621 (Ct. App. 1985).
* Selling a child. Barwin v. Reidy, 62 N.M. 183, 196 (1957).
* Murder of the child's other parent in the presence of the child. In the Matter of the Adoption of Doe, 99 N.M. 278, 281 (Ct. App. 1982).
Practice Note. Section 32A-4-28(D), added in 2001, provides that the department may not petition, nor join in another party's petition, to terminate parental rights when the sole factual basis for the motion is that the child's parent is incarcerated. This reflects prior case law. In re C.P. 103 N.M. at 621; Adoption of Doe, 99 N.M. at 282.
While incarceration alone does not constitute abandonment, the court may, for example, look to whether the crime committed relates to the parent's ability to care for the child or consider the arrangements the parent made to carry out his or her parental responsibility, the extent of age appropriate contact between parent and child, or whether the parent took advantage of any treatment available in the correctional system. See, e.g. State ex rel. CYFD v. Christopher L. 2003-NMCA-068, 68 P.3d 199.
All of this in it's entirety can be found in: Child Welfare Handbook - Chapter 22 - Termination of Parental Rights