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Termination of parental rights: What every parent should know

On Behalf of | May 17, 2022 | Family Law

Termination of parental rights is not something that any person should take lightly, whether you are a parent facing involuntary termination or someone requesting termination for the purposes of adoption. It changes people’s lives, and there are some important things to know.

Voluntary termination

In some cases, parents agree to relinquish their parental rights and responsibilities voluntarily. They may do this so that a stepparent, grandparent or another adult can adopt the child or to transfer parental rights to an agency. 

A parent relinquishing their rights will need to provide their official consent, and there will be a hearing for petitioners to attend.

Involuntary termination

Involuntary termination of parental rights can happen under certain circumstances, including:

  • Refusal or failure to perform parental duties for at least six months before the filing
  • Ongoing and repeated abuse, neglect or misconduct causing a child to be without proper parental control or care
  • A person is the presumed parent but not the natural or biological parent
  • The parent is unknown and cannot be found after three months
  • Conditions leading to the removal of the child from the parent’s home persist, and the parent is unwilling to remedy these issues
  • Failing to make reasonable efforts to make contact with the child for at least four months after birth
  • Instances of rape
  • Parental incarceration for serious crimes

Another party can petition the courts to terminate the parent’s rights in these situations. Generally speaking, the courts will not terminate rights based on environmental factors beyond a parent’s control. They will place considerable weight on elements that do or do not support a child’s welfare and needs.

Taking termination seriously

Whether a parent relinquishes their rights voluntarily or someone asks the courts to terminate them, this is a situation parents and others must take seriously.

Without parental rights, a person has no authority to make decisions for a child or play a role in their lives. They are not responsible for financially supporting the child, either. 

That said, these decisions can ultimately allow a stepparent, relative or another party who can provide the love and support a child deserves to be able to adopt the child.

Parties involved in these situations can benefit from having legal guidance. Anyone with questions or concerns about this process can speak with an attorney at the Quinn Law Firm by calling 814-833-2222.

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