A Legal Look at the Termination of Parental Rights

The termination of parental rights is a sensitive topic for many families. This process can be involuntary or voluntary and essentially cuts all legal ties between a child and their parent. There are several reasons a parent may relinquish their rights or have them taken away. Knowing more about the termination of parental rights in your state will give you and your legal advocates more power in the courtroom.

Involuntary Relinquishment

A parent may lose their legal connection to their child if they’re found guilty of abandonment, abuse, non-compliance with a previously established care plan, or are found to be mentally and/or emotionally incapable of raising the child. They may also lose their parental rights if they were convicted or liable for the other parent’s death or abuse of the child.

Many states many factors when determining abandonment charges and potential abuse. While this term can indicate physically abandoning a child, it also includes willfully neglecting to visit them or failing to pay child support. Abandonment is a common charge that many parents can bring up if the family is separated. Consult with a legal professional on the full range of abandonment charges before entering the courtroom.

When dealing with a case of involuntary termination of parental rights, the court will determine what is in the best interest of the child. Every factor in the child’s life from their parental relationships to their current living situation will be considered to determine the best environment. The court will consider what adjustments have been made to the home to make it safe, the relationship between child and parent, and the potential harm in a change of environment.

When a parent seeks to terminate the rights of another caretaker, it’s often a complicated and drawn-out process. It’s essential to keep documentation of all visits and interactions to better prepare your case in court. Seek out professional legal counsel to better your argument and resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Voluntary Relinquishment

This form of termination is often linked with the adoption process. A parent may give direct consent to a court to cut their ties to the child, allowing the newborn to be promptly adopted by a new family. This process is often not required by stepparents or those not directly linked to the birth. A potential father who wasn’t listed on the birth certificate and isn’t married to the mother can file a waiver of interest to terminate his rights before an adoption.

A voluntary relinquishing of rights is often easier to accomplish than going through the courts. Many parents plan an adoption before the birth of the child and know the formal procedure to legally cut their connection.

Contacting a Law Professional

Determining the best route for your family and future can be difficult. Learning more about parental rights can help you determine your options and the best path available. Contacting a local attorney will give you the essential information and resources you need moving forward.

You don’t have to let the confusion and exhaustion of court wear down your case or your motivation. Count on professionals to advocate on your behalf through the whole process.



Alex is the co-author of 100 Greatest Plays, 100 Greatest Cricketers, 100 Greatest Films and 100 Greatest Moments. He has written for a wide variety of publications including The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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