The focus of any family law case is to preserve and protect the long-term best interests of children and families. And despite what you see on television or read online, most cases do reach a diplomatic conclusion — even in situations where all hope appears lost. With that said, there are disputes where the family dynamic cannot or should not be saved and require aggressive advocacy. This is especially true when a child’s welfare is at stake, which could lead to the termination of parental rights.
Termination of parental rights is not the same as losing custody. It is a fairly rare process by which the legal relationship between a parent and child is permanently severed — voluntarily or involuntarily. In other words, you are no longer the child’s legal parent, and any parental rights you previously had over the child have been taken away.
A few of those terminated rights include but aren’t limited to:
- The ability to visit or talk to the child
- The right to make decisions on behalf of the child
- Access to the child’s legal records
- Your name listed on the child’s birth certificate (your name can actually be removed)
Termination of parental rights is a serious situation.
Parental rights can only be taken away in Texas by court order, and the judge hearing the petition must have clear and convincing evidence that it is in the child’s best interests. This is true even if one or both parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights.
In many circumstances, Courts prefer to ensure every child maintains a relationship with both parents and may recommend alternative solutions to achieve that goal. However, some situations require severing the parent-child relationship, and courts are given discretion to determine if there is enough evidence to support termination, based upon requirements set out in the Family Code.
Here are a few examples of when termination of parental rights may be the right decision:
- The parent abandoned or did not support the child and expressed no intent to return.
- The parent signed an affidavit to relinquish their rights voluntarily.
- The parent endangered the child.
- The parent engaged in certain criminal conduct.
- The parent is otherwise unfit.
- The parent abused or neglected another child.
- The parent kept the child out of school or away from home.
- The parent is imprisoned and cannot care for the child for two or more years.
Who can file a termination of parental rights petition?
The Texas Family Code is very specific as to who can petition for the termination of parental rights. Examples include either parent, a person with court-ordered access or visitation, a foster parent or prospective adoptive parent, family members (ex: grandparents), managing conservators, The Department of Family and Protective Services, or a licensed child-placement agency.
Click here for a complete list of who can file a termination petition.
There is so much more to this conversation, so we invite you to have a consultation with our family attorneys to discuss your situation. Our firm anchors its representation and legal advice in principles and philosophies that focus on the long-term best interests of children and families. Although it is not easy, our attorneys are committed to supporting and guiding clients through the dark days of marital discord and crisis.
Especially when children are involved, we help the client develop and execute the best strategies to avoid leaving a wake of destruction, the brunt of which falls largely on the innocent and impressionable children of divorce.
Please call Christman | Daniell Attorneys, for your legal needs today!
The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The attorneys at Christman | Daniell Attorneys believe in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your own personal circumstances. We have an unwavering commitment to helping our clients at each stage of their legal situation.