Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of Parental Rights attorney Serving Addison, Andrews, Argyle, Bedford, Carrollton, Colleyville, Coppell, Crane, Dallas, Denton, Euless, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garden City, Gardendale, Goldsmith, Grandfalls, Grapevine, Hurst, Irving, Justin, Keller, Kermit, Lake Dallas, Lenorah, Lewisville, Little Elm, Mc Camey, Midkiff, Midland, Monahans, North Richland Hills, Notrees, Odessa, Plano, Rankin, Roanoke, Southlake, Stanton, Tarzan, The Colony, Wickett, and Wink.
Parental rights may be terminated for any number of reasons, such as a parent’s imprisonment or a history of child abuse. For more information about the termination of parental rights in Texas, please refer to the article below.
Texas courts take the voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights cases very seriously. Whenever possible, the court prefers to keep families and parental rights intact. However, under certain circumstances, it may be necessary to end the parent-child relationship such as if the parent voluntarily terminates their rights or if the parents abandoned the child.
Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights
There are a number of grounds for the termination of parental rights. Each state has its own process regarding terminating parental rights. In Texas, individual parents can file for the termination of parental rights, or the court system can issue a court-mandated order. When it comes to involuntary termination, there are many situations where the court may require someone to terminate their parental rights, including:
- Failure to Support a Child
- Criminal Activity and Imprisonment
- Court-Ordered Service Plan
- Drug Use
- Alleged Father
- Mental Illness
What Happens When Parental Rights are Terminated?
The Texas Family Code recognizes a parent as any person who is the child’s legal or natural mother or father. The legal parent could be a biological parent, stepparent, or adoptive parent. When a person’s parental rights are terminated, several things happen. The loss of parent’s rights means the parent will:
- No longer have any legal rights to a parent-child relationship.
- Give up the right to any contact or visitation with the child – this may be different in adoption or voluntary termination cases.
- Have no part in raising the child.
- Be removed from the child’s birth certificate.
- No longer have a right to contest an adoption.
- No longer have an obligation to pay child support.
Whether voluntary or involuntary, the court must approve a petition to terminate a parent’s rights. Signing the affidavit alone is not enough. The court must first hear the petition and review the complaint against the parent(s) and consider the child’s welfare and best interest. They will review any evidence submitted to the court and may conduct their own investigation into the claims. If there is clear and convincing evidence that the parent is unfit and reasonable efforts to reunite the family have been unsuccessful – only then will the court terminate a parent’s rights.
Terminating Parental Rights
Who Can File for Termination of Parental Rights?
Either parent can file for termination. If you are not the child’s natural parent, you can file if you are:
- The alleged father of the child
- A foster parent
- A prospective adoptive parent
- A close relative
- The guardian ad litem filing on behalf of the child.
- A legal guardian of the child
- A person with the court-ordered visitation of the child
- A person who has had the total care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months.
- The managing conservator of the child
- A person living with the child and the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator.
- The Department of Family and Protective Services or Child Protective Services
- A licensed child-placement agency, such as for foster care or adoption services
When Can I File for Termination of Parental Rights?
The process to terminate parental rights can begin at any time before or after the birth of the child. The time frame for when you can file varies based on who is filing and why. For example, if a man raising a child as his own learns he is not the child’s biological father, he must file within two years of that date. Consult with an experienced family law attorney to make sure you file within the proper time frame for the petition to terminate parental rights.
Reinstatement of Parental Rights
Texas courts take the termination of parental rights very seriously. As a result, it isn’t easy to reinstate a parent’s rights. Speak with an experienced family law attorney to see if your circumstances qualify.
Checklist: Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights
To terminate a parent’s rights, the state must prove that there is clear and convincing legal evidence to declare a parent as unfit. Reasons to terminate a parent’s rights might include evidence of:
- Severe or chronic abuse or neglect of any children in the household
- Abandonment – i.e., absent parent, prolonged lack of contact, interest in, or financial support of the child, or leaving a newborn at a safe-haven provider.
- Long-term mental illness or incapacity due to addiction
- Child exploitation or child molestation
- Involuntary termination of rights of the parent to another child
- Sexual abuse
- Charges of human or sex trafficking of a minor
- Sex crimes against the mother resulting in the conception of the child.
- A felony conviction of violence against the child or another family member
- A conviction of any felony resulting in long-term incarceration, especially when there are no alternative placements – requiring the child to enter foster care.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me?
A family law attorney will always have your rights and the best interests of your family at heart. They specialize in cases of divorce and help you through filling out divorce papers, mediation, custody, and more. A family law attorney is also experienced in other family matters such as adopting children, paternity disputes, dispute resolution between you and the other parent, modification of orders, and the termination of parental rights.
Should I Hire a Termination of Parental Rights Lawyer?
If you find yourself in a position where you’re facing involuntary termination of your parental rights, or if you believe that terminating the rights of the other parent is in the best interest of the child, then it’s important to hire a qualified family law lawyer. Navigating the complexities surrounding the termination of parent rights can be difficult without guidance. However, parental rights termination attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs of the laws surrounding terminating parental custody and rights. They take your rights as well as the parent and child relationship, safety, and best interest of the involved children very seriously.
Call the professional family law lawyers at the Jimenez Law Firm to learn more about divorce, child custody, and parental rights termination at (214) 513-0125 or contact us online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the other parent and I agree on the terms of the parental rights termination?
Yes. All parental right termination cases are either voluntary or involuntary. When you’re dealing with a voluntary termination of parental rights case, then the parents agree to termination by either completing the necessary paperwork or requesting the termination with a judge.
As long as you can show a judge that the action is in the best interest of the child, the judge will usually approve the request.
Does it cost anything to file an original petition to terminate the parent-child relationship?
Yes. At the very least you typically will need to pay a filing fee. Additional fees may apply depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. Contact your local district clerk’s office in the county where the child lives to learn more or speak with a family law attorney.
How do I start the termination of rights process?
The first step is to speak with a family law attorney about starting the process. They’ll help you understand what you need to begin your case.
Is the termination of parental rights required in Texas before adoption can take place?
The court must first decide to terminate the parent-child relationship between the child and both parents in order for the child to be eligible for adoption. However, in the case of step-parent adoptions, only the parent not married to the step-parent must terminate their parental rights.
It’s also important to note that parental rights termination can be joined with an adoption case.
What happens if I’m afraid for either my safety or the safety of my children?
If you feel as though you and/or your children are not safe, it’s imperative to get help right away through one of the following resources:
- National Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Crime Victims: 888-343-4414
- Family Violence Legal Line: 800-374-4673
In situations involving sexual assault, you can call Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault at 844-303-7233.
If it is an emergency, then call 911.
What if I need orders right away?
If you need orders urgently you can request a judge to provide a temporary restraining order also known as a TRO. This temporary order will last until you’re able to have a temporary orders hearing. It’s important to understand that a family violence protective order is not the same thing as a temporary restraining order. Speak to your attorney about the differences.
What is a “termination of parental rights” case?
A case surrounding the concept of terminating a parent’s rights is a legal process in which the court ends the relationship between one or more children and one or both of the parents. If rights are terminated, then the parent in question will no longer have any legal rights to the child. This can only happen through a court order.
What is considered the best interest of the child?
Most courts have a broad discretion regarding the child’s best interest. They often look at the following factors:
- The child’s desires
- The child’s current and future emotional and physical needs
- Any current or future emotional or physical danger for the child
- The parental ability of the individual seeking custody
- Available programs to assist the individual in supporting the child’s best interest, and more.
When can I begin a parental rights termination case?
A case to terminate parental rights can be filed before or at any time after the child is born.
It should be noted that the reason for requesting the termination of parental rights can shorten the timeline of when you are able to file.
For example, if you are filing the case because the other parent failed to support the child for a year then the case must be filed no later than six months after the begins to support the child (if at all).
There are other stipulations depending on your unique case. A family law attorney will be able to offer more information on any deadline challenges you may face.