Parental Rights

A parent's parental rights may be voluntarily terminated if the parents are placing their child for adoption or they may be involuntarily terminated by the state. Parental rights may be involuntarily terminated if the state determines the parent has injured the child through physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe neglect. Child abuse can include allowing other people to abuse your child, or failing to properly care for your child. If your parental rights have been terminated, your child will be placed up for adoption. If you are voluntarily terminating your parental rights or if you are facing involuntary termination of your parental rights a family law attorney can help. If you would like a family law attorney to review your parental rights case fill out the FREE evaluation form and a family law attorney will contact you to discuss your parental rights case.

Definition of Parental Rights

Parental rights are the legal obligations and responsibilities that apply to the parent of a child. They can include caring for the child, protecting the child, feeding the child, consenting to medical care, and having physical custody of the child. There are additional legal obligations of caring for a child such as ensuring that they attend school and receive proper medical treatment if they are injured. Failure to meet your legal parenting responsibilities can result in child abuse or neglect.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights Through Adoption

For an adoption to be completed the parent's rights must be terminated. Sometimes the parent's will still terminate their rights even if an adoption does not immediately follow. By terminating your parental rights you are severing the legal relationship with the child. This means you will no longer be responsible for the child's care or management. The adoptive parents will have a legal relationship with the adoptive child as the natural parent did prior to adoption.

Voluntary termination of parental rights can also occur when parents have been charged with abuse or neglect and decide they are not capable of providing a healthy home environment free of child abuse. In this situation parental rights are terminated or "relinquished".

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights through Divorce

Termination of parental rights may also occur if a parent does not want to be involved in their child's life or if the child is going to be legally adopted by a step parent. These types of terminations are generally voluntary. Termination of parental rights does not necessarily eliminate the legal responsibility to pay child support or to pay any child support payments which are in arrears.

Even if you terminate your parental right's you still may be responsible for the financial care of your child until they reach ages 18 to 21. The age you can discontinue child support may differ by state. If you are a father or mother considering terminating your parental rights you need to talk to a family law attorney and determine the impact on your child support payments.

Non-Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

All states have provisions allowing for the involuntary termination of the parental rights. This termination process will legally terminate the rights of the biological parents. Most states will seek to terminate parental rights involuntarily only under the most extreme circumstances. In most cases if the parents are willing and able to correct any problems and are seeking help with overcoming abusive patterns or behaviors the state will work to return the children to their parents. The most important factors a state will consider are the mental, emotional, physical health and well-being of the child.

Certain states have outlined factors which will identify grounds for involuntarily terminating the rights of parents. Some of the more common reasons can include:

  • Abandonment
  • Chronic sexual or physical abuse
  • Mental illness or addictions that make the parent incapable of properly rearing the child
  • No contact with child for a long time
  • Incarceration
  • Committing a felony

If your children have been removed from your home you have the right to appeal the removal. It is important to talk to a family law attorney who is familiar with child abuse law in your state to help you with the appeal process. It may takes weeks or month for the court to evaluate your case and determine if your child should be returned to you, a family law attorney can help with your parental rights case at the judicial proceeding.

If your parental rights are terminated, you as the natural parent will have no custodial rights or privileges with regard to your child. In addition, the state does not have to notify you of any further adoptive proceedings.

Termination of Parental Right's Issues

The Supreme Court has maintained that the rights of parents to care for and rear their children are essential. The court has held that the custody, nurturing, and care of a child should be the primary responsibility of parents with as little interference from the state as possible for the welfare of the child.

Laws have consistently been upheld to require the state prove their case for terminating parental rights with clear and convincing evidence. Laws also allow that the parents have an opportunity to present a defense and challenge any issues brought before the courts. If the courts are threatening to terminate your parental rights and you have the desire to correct any issues related to your children's care it is important to talk to a family law attorney who can work with you.

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