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When Is it Necessary to Terminate Parental Rights?

Parental rights (from a legal standpoint) are all obligations and responsibilities that apply to the parents of a child.

Parental rights include:

  • physical custody;
  • care of the child;
  • providing food and shelter;
  • medical consent; and
  • protecting the child from harm.

If a parent fails to meet the above-mentioned responsibilities, they run the risk of involuntary termination of their parental rights. Upon termination of these rights, the biological parent(s) are no longer legally responsible for the child. Termination is a permanent decision and cannot be reversed once determined.

Voluntary Termination

A parent can choose to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. This means they may no longer wish to retain parental responsibilities. Voluntary terminations often occur when a stepparent adoption is requested or when a child is born to a young mother who may not be ready for the responsibilities of child-care.

Parents have two options when deciding to terminate parental rights. They can either surrender and bring their child to designated safe-haven area, or consent and choose a family to adopt their child.

A parent can also ‘safely abandon’ their child if they have decided they are not ready for the responsibilities of parenthood and aren’t sure what to do. Many counties have statutes that permit a child to be safely abandoned, usually at a hospital or fire station.

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination occurs when a social service agent is involved due to a parent being unfit. When this happens, the child is removed from the home and either temporarily placed in foster care or with a blood relative. During this time, the state will attempt to provide rehabilitation services to the custodial parent. If the parent does not rehabilitate in the determined amount of time , their parental rights could be involuntarily revoked.

Involuntary termination is when a court decides it is in the best interest of a child to terminate parental rights.

Due to the gravity of this scenario, a court must have serious reason for finding a parent unfit.

Commonly, the reasoning is:

  • abandonment (or extreme parental disinterest);
  • neglect or abuse;
  • mental deficiency or illness;
  • drug or alcohol-induced incapacity;
  • a felony conviction or a current jail sentence; or
  • the murder of a sibling.

For termination of rights to be lawfully accepted, there needs to be a greater reason than what is in the best interest of the child; it must also be shown that continued parental custody would be detrimental to development.

Caring Legal Support

Our parental rights attorney understands that the possibility of losing a child can be extremely stressful. We know there is a lot at stake and will do everything we can to reunite you and your child.

Call our firm today at (270) 977-8910 or contact us online for a FREE legal consultation.

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