The termination of parental rights is governed by statute or law. The law provides that under certain circumstances, where a parent does not perform his or her duties by a child, then that parent’s rights can be terminated. The State or a parent can initiate this termination of parental rights. After the termination of parental rights, the child can be adopted, either by a step-parent, or by another person with the consent of the parent who retains rights to custody and decision-making for the child.
When Can a Parent’s Rights Be Terminated?
A parent’s rights can be terminated when one parent has failed to live up to their duties as a parent, including but not limited to duties to pay child support and provide medical and other care for the child.
Reasons for termination of parental rights include failure to provide support for the child, abandoning the child, failing to provide support for the mother during her pregnancy if the child is less than 14 months old, and failure to maintain a substantial positive relationship with the child for 12 months out of the last 14 months. Parental rights can be terminated for certain criminal convictions including child abuse and neglect or failure to protect a child, and people who have been convicted of causing the death of a child through abuse and neglect can have their parental rights terminated. If a parent has been sentenced to prison for more than ten years, and maintaining a relationship with the child would be harmful to the child, then his or her rights can be terminated by the Court. Additionally, if the parent has a mental or other deficiency that makes them unable to care for a child, their rights can be terminated. There are some other allowable reasons for termination, as well, and we are happy to hear from you and discuss with you whether termination of parental rights is possible in your case.
What Happens when Parental Rights are Terminated?
The law allows for the filing of a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights prior to the filing of an adoption petition, and allows the Court to grant full custody and rights to one parent or the other, or to both biological parents, or to any parent or prospective adoptive parent, or to any legal agency that has custody of the child.
Terminating parental rights to a child ends the parent-child relationship between the child and that person. A parent whose rights are terminated will no longer have any right to custody or visitation of the child, and will have no say in the education, medical care, or activities in which the child participates. A parent whose rights are terminated by the Court also has no control over whether or not the child can be adopted, should the custodial parent choose to consent to an adoption.
The parent whose rights are terminated can still be held responsible for child support payments, unless the court determines that this person is not the parent of the child. This duty of support is not terminated unless and until the child is adopted and a final decree of adoption has been entered by the Court.
What do I need to do next?
It would be helpful before we have our initial free consultation, if you would draft a short description of what has taken place in the child’s and parent’s lives that has brought the case to the point of parental rights termination. Who, what, when, where, and how are the kinds of issues you should write down. A history of child support payments, visits, telephone calls, gifts, and letters will help us assess the degree of involvement of the parent for the purposes of the parental rights termination law. Also, whether or not the grandparents are involved, and to what degree, would be helpful. Finally, the places of residence of the child for the past five years will help inform us on how to proceed.
After we consult with you, we will give you peace of mind and you will be helped knowing what options are available to you.
Why is your firm the best choice?
This firm has over thirty years of practice in trial law and we see your case from your perspective. We have worked with families making tough decisions in the past, and will always have the interests of your child in mind.