Grounds to terminate parental rights are a big deal.
Every parent has rights and responsibilities when it comes to their children, and when these are neglected or violated, the situation must not be taken lightly. It’s never an easy situation, but it’s important to be well-informed when taking legal action.
Whether a parent voluntarily signs over their rights or have their rights involuntarily terminated by the court, it’s important to know the different grounds to terminate parental rights.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination
Parents in some situations may volunteer to terminate their own rights, this the term voluntary termination. This is the case for those who willingly decide to give their children up for adoption for a variety of reasons.
Involuntary terminations is just as it sounds: when parental rights are terminated involuntarily by the courts decision. Most of the content of this article is dealing with the involuntary termination of parental rights.
Once parental rights have been signed away and terminated, thus ends any legal parent-child relationship. At this point, the children are “free” from the responsibility of their biological parent(s) and are able to be adopted.
In cases where the termination of parental rights leaves the child with no other parents or legal guardian, the child then becomes a ward of the state and can be placed in foster care or other group homes with the potential for eventual adoption once a petition is filed with the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).
Common Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights
The following are some of the most common reasons that parental rights can be involuntarily terminated:
- Sustained abuse or neglect
- Chronic abuse or neglect of other children or members of the household
- Extended alcohol or drug abuse by the parents
- A mental health condition or some disability that prohibits the proper care of minors.
- Sexual abuse
- Child abandonment
- Failure to sustain or make effort to be in contact with the child
- Participation of the parent in illegal activities or being charged with a felony
- The involuntary termination of parental rights in regard to a different child
Each state has varying statues on the grounds for involuntary termination parental rights. Learn more about the child welfare laws and different resources in your state.
For parental rights to be involuntarily terminated, the courts are required to provide evidence and decide two things:
- That the parent is unfit
- That terminating parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
As is the case with children in foster care, it up to the judge or juvenile courts to decide if a parent’s rights should be involuntarily terminated base on the above basic criteria and other circumstantial evidence proving the parent to be unfit.
Can Parental Rights be Reinstated?
It is not common that parental rights are reinstated once they’re revoked, but of course, there can be circumstantial exceptions.
While all states have provisions in the law for the termination of parental rights, most states do not allow for the reinstatement of these rights. But even in states that allow reinstatement, parents must be able to show an extraordinary improvement in their ability to properly care for a child before a court will grant such a request. -FindLaw.com
There are about nine states today that allow for the possibility of parental rights reinstatement. Learn more from the National Conference of State Legistlatures about the different requirements for reinstatement in each state.
If you are concerned that a child is being abused or if you have knowledge of a situation where parental rights should be investigated, do not hesitate to contact Child Protective Services in your state or local area or contact the National Hotline for Domestic Violence.
As tough as these situations can be, it’s always best to keep the welfare of minors in mind and work towards taking the proper steps to make sure they are cared for, which unfortunately sometimes includes the termination of parental rights.
Have any questions about grounds to terminate parental rights?
Pond Law Group is here to help.
Our team is experienced in family law and are here to provide the best legal counsel and representation that we can in your time of need.