Generally, parents have a right to care for their children and make decisions regarding their health, education and other important needs. However, there are situations where a parent’s rights may be terminated.
Termination of parental rights is the legal process where a court ends the parent-child relationship between the child and one or both of his or her parents. Parental rights can only be terminated by a court order.
A voluntary termination of parental rights takes place when the child’s parent signs an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment which means the parent agrees that the court should terminate his or her rights to the child.
An involuntary termination of parental rights takes place when the court ends the parent-child relationship without the parent’s consent, usually in cases where the parent abandoned the child, did not support the child, endangered the child or is otherwise an unfit parent.
Filing a case
Either parent can file a termination of parental rights case and it can usually be opened before or any time after the child is born. There are also parties other than the child’s parent who can file a case. These include the child’s foster or prospective adoptive parent, a person with court ordered visitation, a licensed child-placing agency and the child’s guardian.
In determining whether to terminate the parent’s rights, the court may consider several factors. These include the child’s wishes, the child’s emotional and physical needs, the stability of the home or the proposed placement and the parent’s acts or omissions that indicate the existing parent-child relationship is not proper.
An experienced attorney can answer questions about termination of parental rights and related family law matters.