A Guide to Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

A Guide to Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights by Tom Tebeau

No matter what kind of adoption you are pursuing, and regardless of your circumstances, every adoption has an important step. This is the legal transfer of parental rights, from the original parents to the other. In most cases, this means that the biological parent’s rights must terminate legally before another family can consider adopting the child into theirs.

Usually, the termination of parent's rights could be in two ways, including voluntary termination or the involuntary termination. In the parent-child relationship, parents have some basic responsibilities and rights. The parents have the right to make decisions in the best interest of the child, like their education, healthcare, religion, and other major concerns as well. However, a court may also take away the rights from a parent, if they violate the law.

As you read below, this article should guide you further on involuntary termination of parental rights.

The Reasons for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Note that each state has its own rules regarding the termination of parent's rights. However, some of the most common reasons for involuntary termination include:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Severe neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect of children in the household
  • Failure to support the child
  • Failure to maintain contact with the child
  • Incapacity of parents because of long term illnesses
  • Long term alcohol or drug addiction of parents

When you consult a Georgia adoption attorney, such as Tom Tebeau, you will also learn that a parent may lose their parental rights if they have a bad record of certain felonies. They fall under this termination if they commit a crime against their child or another family member. The court will have the option to terminate their rights and their relationship. Furthermore, if a parent goes to prison for some time, because of their acts, the court will have no choice but to send the child to foster care, since there are no alternatives and the parent will lose their rights.

As you can see, although termination of parent's rights is common in domestic infant adoptions, involuntary one has a link to foster care adoption. As a child enters the welfare system, the parents lose their rights immediately. The state then makes reasonable efforts to provide the best services that would help to preserve the family and reunite the child with their parents by trying to remedy the conditions that pushed the child into this system. State laws put in reasonable efforts, including services like family therapy, substance abuse treatment, and classes on parenting.

In the case of a foster child, their parents have several chances for reunification, but they must meet some requirements before the transfer of their rights legally by the court. Upon termination of parental rights, the child will then be free for adoption.

You should know that there are some other instances which require reasonable efforts and the court has to determine whether the reunification of the child would be best for them or not. In such cases, the court will terminate the parent's rights involuntarily. The circumstances could be:

  • If the child is a victim of torture
  • Murder of another child by the parent
  • Felony committed by the parent
  • Rights of parents to the sibling of the child terminated involuntarily.

Foster Care

 If this process of termination of parental rights leaves the child with no legally responsible guardians or parents, the court will then send the child to foster care. However, before a state takes this drastic step, it has to file a petition under ASFA (federal Adoption and Safe Families Act). Some state agencies do not require the petition, and the circumstances include:

  • The court is determined that the child is an abandoned infant
  • The child is in foster care for the past 15-22 months
  • The parent was in manslaughter or murder of another child

Note that most states adopt statutes that offer more protection for the child, shortening wait time before the termination of parental rights and sending the child to foster care. However, it is an expectation of more than half states to follow guidelines.

Voluntary Termination

Just to have a quick summary, voluntary termination of rights occurs when the parents wish to give up their child for adoption intentionally. This type of adoption often tags along with domestic infant adoptions.

Termination of parental rights in the adoption process is an important part. Whether you are a hopeful adoptive parent or a birth parent, you should consult an adoption attorney to fully understand involuntary termination of parental rights. These experts will be able to guide you well on the circumstances and the entire process. Their goal would be to cater to you in ways to ensure that you succeed in the adoption process. Furthermore, they would guide you further on voluntary termination and the grounds that lead to it.

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