If parents are a danger to their children, or are simply unable to care for them, their rights may be terminated. This is an extremely serious process, and is viewed very carefully by judges. A termination of rights permanently ends all ties between a parent and child. Understandably, the standard for a termination of parental rights is very high. The most common reasons for a termination are neglect, abandonment, abuse, and “failure to assume parental responsibility.” Additionally, even in cases of abandonment, the judge will be very reluctant to terminate a parent’s rights unless a stepparent or other person is willing and approved to adopt the child. The main reason for this reluctance is that, even if a parent is not involved with the child, the parent is still usually required to pay child support. By terminating that parent’s rights, the child has one less source of financial support.
Rules for termination require that the judge schedules the hearing rather quickly. Usually, unlike most child-related cases, termination of rights cases are tried to a jury. State law requires that every step be followed exactly, and often every opportunity is given to the troubled parent to maintain his/her rights. Termination of a parent’s rights can ensure a child’s safety and well-being, and provide greater stability and permanence. However, it can also cause great confusion and disruption. Our experience will help you ensure that your family receives the best care possible.