How to File for Termination of Parental Rights
Parental rights are defined as the legal relationship between a parent and a child. This legal relationship includes the parent's responsibility to support the child financially, the parent's right to custody and/or visitation, and the ability to make educational, religious, or medical decisions for the child.
Filing to terminate the parental rights of a parent can be scary, but there can be legal reasons to pursue such action. However, don't expect it to be an easy or quick process.
What are Parental Rights?
"Parental rights” are defined as the legal relationship between a parent and a child. This legal relationship includes the parent's responsibility to support the child financially, the parent's right to custody and/or visitation, and the ability to make educational, religious, or medical decisions for the child.
This type of family law generally focuses on giving the child a stable arrangement that is in their best interest. Courts tend to steer away from the termination of parental rights but determining the child’s best interest looks different in every scenario because there are so many contributing factors.
Steps to Take
Courts need objective proof that termination is in the best interest of the child. Judges often hesitate to terminate parental rights, even voluntarily. A family law attorney will be invaluable in arguing this kind of case. Parents will have to file a petition with their local court requesting a hearing to determine parental rights.
Once a petition is filed, parents need to attend a hearing before the judge who will determine whether rights will be granted/terminated.
At the hearing, if the parent that the petition is filed against is there, he or she will be given a chance to talk about why they believe it is the right or wrong choice. If the other parent does not go to court, the judge can decide without them. If the judge feels like they need more information, they can set a trial date to be able to hear from witnesses and assess the evidence.
A Co-Parenting Communication Service Can Help
Regardless of the co-parenting situation, having accurate and secure records of the communication that takes place between you and your co-parent is important. TalkingParents is a co-parenting communication service that enables co-parents to send messages, make calls, and plan in a shared calendar.
All the messages and call recordings are stored on a secure server, and records of them can be ordered at any time for court proceedings or other reasons.
Parental Rights Termination Considerations
If a parent’s parental rights are terminated, that parent will no longer have any obligation to support the child financially or otherwise. The parent with complete parental rights will have no recourse to seek support or visitation from the other parent. Family law professionals take the termination of parental rights very seriously, and they take many factors into consideration when deciding what the right choice will be for the children involved.
These situations they consider include:
- Communication efforts if one parent can show that there has been effort (or a lack thereof) to have a relationship with the child.
- Child abandonment or neglect.
- Failure to support the child financially.
- Any form of abuse or harm to the child.
- A criminal conviction, especially felonies involving harmful acts toward children.
If the child is over 13, many states will listen to their opinions and wishes before deciding on the case.
What is Partial Termination?
A legal separation or divorce often causes partial termination of parental rights. This could mean that both parents have physical custody or visitation rights, but that one parent is responsible for the medical decisions for the child.
Parents can make their own parental right agreements to make sure that the child’s best interests are being considered. One parent may feel more comfortable making important decisions but still want to maintain shared custody.