Termination of Parental Rights
How Can a Parent’s Rights be Terminated?
There are 2 ways to terminate parental rights: voluntary termination and involuntary termination. Parental rights are terminated on an individual basis; one birth parent can have his or her parental rights terminated while the other parent’s rights remain unaffected.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
A voluntary termination is agreed upon by both birth parents. Courts use certain factors to determine if voluntary termination of parental rights should be granted. These include:
- Whether either parent has been subject to:
- Undue Influence
- Improper Pressure from parents, friends, relatives, doctors, or acquaintances
- Whether a birth parent is under the influence of any drug, medicine, or substance that might affect his or her judgment
- Whenever the parents have a reason for resigning their parental rights
- Whether termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
An involuntary termination can occur without either parent’s consent. An involuntary termination can occur when:
- a birth parent abandons or fails to plan for the child
- a birth parent fails to support the child
- a birth parent is abusive towards the child
- a birth parent is in jail
- in the case of newborn placements, a birth parent simply does not appear to contest termination of parental rights
What Happens To the Child Once the Parent’s Rights are Terminated?
If one parent’s rights have been terminated but the other parent’s rights are still recognized, than the child will remain with the other parent. If both parent’s rights have been terminated, then the state assumes legal custody and responsibility for the child until a new guardian can be found.
The state will look to relatives of the child or people the child might be emotionally attached as guardians. If a legal guardian cannot be found, the state will place the child in the foster care system until another family adopts the child or until the child becomes an adult, as defined by the state (age eighteen, graduating from high school, etc).
Do I Need a Lawyer if my Parental Rights are Being Terminated?
The procedure for termination of parental rights can be very confusing and varies from state to state. An experienced family lawyer can help you understand what your rights are as a parent and how they can be terminated. A family attorney can also represent you in court and file any necessary paperwork.
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Last Modified: 04-12-2012 12:13 PM PDT
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