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Termination of Parental Rights

Parental rights are at the root of the legal relationship between a parent and child. They often include a parent’s right to guide their education, upbringing, religious practices, and to be involved in their care and wellbeing. When someone’s parental rights are voluntarily or involuntarily terminated, the legal parent-child relationship is officially ended by the state in an act that is difficult to reverse. These rights may be terminated for many reasons, but, in both voluntary and involuntary cases, there must be specific reasons that are recognized by the courts as justification for the termination of those rights.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Parental rights may be terminated without the consent of the parent, but it must be a decision made by the state based on sufficient reasoning. Many times, feuding parents may feel that the other parent’s legal rights need to, or should be, terminated; however, this can only be done if the court decides that the parent is unfit for the following reasons:

  • The parent has abandoned the child
  • There has been chronic or severe neglect and/or abuse
  • Mental illness or inability of the parent to take care of the child over the long term
  • Chronic incapacitation of the parent over a long term by drugs or alcohol
  • Lack of contact or support of the child
  • The parent has had their parental rights to another child terminated involuntarily
  • Felony conviction for a violent crime against the child or a relative

Ultimately, the court must be convinced that the decision to involuntarily terminate the parent’s rights is in the best interest of the child as the parent is unfit and returning the child to the care of that parent would endanger the child.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

A parent or parents may sometimes decide that it is in the child’s best interest to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. However, for the state to allow the voluntary termination of parental rights, individuals will usually have to demonstrate that they have “good cause” for doing so. For example, many states will acknowledge voluntary termination of parental rights so that a child can be adopted as a good cause for giving up these rights. When a parent or parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, the ultimate and most important goal is to ensure that the termination is in the child’s best interest and that the state will be able to find a permanent and stable placement for the child.

More Information

The laws regarding termination of parental rights can be complicated and involve many different factors. If you are dealing with an issue involving termination of parental rights, your best choice is to consult a knowledgeable attorney about your questions. For more information, contact the Colleyville child custody attorneys of Alexander & Associates today at 817-756-4040.