Quick guide to parental rights termination

The termination of parental rights is a complex legal procedure that can leave anyone involved in the process with questions.

In the state of Texas, there are a variety of reasons why someone may choose to relinquish their parental rights. For example, a custodial parent may want the other natural parent to relinquish his or her rights to a child to allow a stepparent to adopt the child. Sometimes the termination happens at the request of the courts rather than a family member.

What is the typical time frame for this legal action?

There is no set timeline for terminating the rights of a parent. However, some situations require state agencies to put this process into motion within a certain timeframe. For example, if a child is abandoned as an infant, the state would file its petition to terminate parental rights as soon as possible. Similarly, the Child Welfare Information Gateway states natural parents may lose the rights to the child if the kid spent 15 of the most recent 22 months in foster care.

What circumstances could lead to involuntary termination?

Some parents may choose to give up their legal rights to a child, but more often than not this type of termination is involuntary. Involuntary termination must be overseen by a court of law that tries to determine what living situation is best for the dependent. When a parent abandons his or her child, termination is typically granted. Other grounds for involuntary relinquishment include the following:

· One of the parents tried to kill the other parent, the child in question or another minor.

· The child was uncared for because one or both of the guardians was incarcerated for at least two years.

· The kid was not enrolled in school due to a particular failure of the mother and father.

· The mother and father used a dangerous controlled substance that endangered the health and safety of the offspring.

· The parent was unable to comply with pervious court orders designed to help him or her regain guardianship of the child.

Usually involuntary termination applies to both parents, but in some cases state agencies may choose to cut parental ties for one party while leaving the child with the other party.

Should parents be coerced into terminating their rights?

Mothers and fathers should either voluntarily give up their rights to the child or have their rights terminated by a court. Caseworkers and other agents of the state should not try to force the parents into agreeing with this legal process. The Texas Family Code actually prohibits caseworkers from bribing or threatening a mother or father until he or she agrees to sign a termination petition.

Whenever a termination of maternal or paternal rights is considered in Texas, the family, state agents, and courts need to consider the needs of the child. It could be helpful to work with an attorney who is familiar with these types of proceedings.