Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of Parental Rights in California
According to California’s child custody and visitation laws, sole child custody orders are usually granted to one of the parents in the divorce while parenting time or visitation is granted to the other. In addition, sole legal custody is often granted to one parent and gives them the exclusive right to making decisions about a child’s education, health, religion, and well-being. However, there may be times that the rights of a parent are terminated under state law. If you or a loved one is in this situation, Strong Family Law can help.
In the simplest of terms, this means the obligations and rights of the biological parent are terminated and they are no longer considered the legal parent of the child in question. In California, the termination of parental rights is often seen in the adoption process as in stepparent adoption cases where a biological parent consents and waives their parental rights. However, if the biological parent does not consent or is unwilling to do so, the court may terminate their parental rights under certain circumstances.
Common Reasons for Termination of Parental Rights
In the child-parent relationship, the parents have certain responsibilities and rights such as making decisions regarding the child’s education, health, religion, and well-being. However, the court has the option of terminating these rights from a parent that breaks the law or, in the case of the father, doesn’t claim paternity. Parents can voluntarily terminate their rights as well. Once the court orders the termination of parental rights, the legal child-parent relationship is ended.
The statutes for the termination of parental rights will vary from one state to another. But the most common reasons that a parent’s rights are terminated involuntarily include:
- chronic or severe abuse or neglect
- involuntary termination of parental rights to another child
- long-term incapacity of a parent attributed to alcohol and/or drugs
- contact with child is not maintained or supported
- other children in the same household are abused or neglected
- parental deficiency or long-term mental illness
- sexual abuse
Parental rights can also be terminated should the parent be charged with and convicted of a felony or if they commit a violent crime against the child or another family member. Furthermore, if the child has to be placed in the foster care system because a parent is imprisoned and there are no alternatives available, parental rights can be terminated.
Best Interests of the Child
As with child custody and visitation rights, the court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child in termination proceedings. Some state statutes use more generalized language to mandate the importance of the child’s health and safety. Oftentimes, termination of parental rights is the only way to protect the child or children. However, some states have legislation that lists certain factors that must be taken into consideration. This includes the child’s:
- attachment and cultural issues
- child’s reasonable preferences
- emotional, mental, moral, and physical well-being
Our family law attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable of the laws regarding termination of parental rights. We understand the difficulty involved in the decision-making process. We are here to assist and guide you through the entire legal process
A Brief Word about Reinstatement of Parental Rights
In most states, once the family courts have ordered the termination of parental rights, the decision is final and reinstatement of those rights will not be allowed. However, there are certain circumstances when the parent has the option to file for reinstatement of their parental rights. This usually occurs when the child is waiting to be placed under foster care.
For more information regarding the termination of parental rights or to talk to a family lawyer, contact Strong Family Law today.