Common Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights

Children are involved in one of the most complicated aspects of divorce. Custody and visitation can have lasting effects on a family, especially on children who are still in the formidable years of their development.

Criminal or behavioral actions could be grounds for termination of parental rights. The court's goal in awarding parental or custodial rights is always to place the child in a stable and loving home environment. To that end, any behavior that jeopardizes a child’s safety and stability could be classified as grounds for terminating the parent’s custody and/or visitation rights. 

Grounds for termination include:

  • Felony conviction
  • Drug or alcohol-induced incapacity
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect or abuse

Termination of parental rights is a very serious legal action. The court must have evidence for finding a parent unfit before making a ruling of this nature. If you have evidence that your child’s other parent is unfit and you would like to file a petition for termination of their parental rights, contact the Law Office of Pamela C. Bratcher.

How Do Termination Proceedings Work?

There are two ways to lose parental rights/visitation: voluntarily or involuntarily. If a parent or parents choose to terminate their parental rights, it is voluntary. By doing so, they forfeit their right to make decisions and have contact with the child. They will need to pay any past due child support, but they no longer have an obligation to pay once they have done so.

Involuntary termination occurs when a parent’s actions warrant termination. If they have abused, neglected, or failed to support the child, they will likely have their rights revoked. In involuntary cases, the court removes parental rights. Court decisions that result in loss of parental rights overrule other documented parental benefits and contributions like inheritance, custody, visitation, and child support. Parents have rights if a petition is filed against them.

The parent has a right to legal representation, which the court may appoint if the parent cannot pay for an attorney themselves. They also have the right to argue against the termination of their parental rights. If they disagree with the petition, the court appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL) or a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) to represent the child's best interests.

In court decisions where both parents are at risk to lose parental rights, the decision affects whether the child is moved from state care to the care of the parents. If the court dismisses the petition, it will then decide whether the child will remain in the care of the parent or continue to be in the state or other parents’ care. Parents rights still have the right to ask for custody and visitation and will have an obligation to pay child support even if the child is in out-of-home care.

Find Out More About Parental Rights

Abuse and neglect leave scars, especially on children. Emergency resources are available for those with reasonable suspicion of abuse, meaning if you told another person the same information, they would come to the same conclusion. If you have reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, contact the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services hotline. You can find more information about the CHFS hotline here.

It can be terrifying to think that your parental rights may be taken away or that your child is in an abusive environment. Our firm understands how much you care for your family and we work hard to pursue the most optimal course of action for your case.

Contact the Law Office of Pamela C. Bratcher at (270) 977-8910 or visit us online to schedule your consultation.