Termination of Parent Rights

A parent who abandons their child may lose their rights

Parental rights are the rights each parent has to care for, make decisions for and enjoy their children. Most of us take them for granted and they are protected by law. But sometimes, a parent leaves their child with the other parent — or even other family members — for years and reneges on their obligations to care for and support that child.

When a parent has abandoned their relationship with and responsibilities to a child, it may be possible to end their legal right to be a parent. No one should consider this option lightly, but in some painful and difficult situations, it may be the correct choice for the children.

A parent cannot voluntarily terminate their rights just to avoid making child support payments or to shirk the responsibilities of parenting. Parental rights can only be terminated in a special court — juvenile court — that is governed by different and more stringent laws than regular family law courts of equity. For instance, to end a parental relationship requires “clear and convincing evidence.” That is another legal term of art to describe a burden of proof that is greater than that required in regular custodial matters. Therefore, parental rights terminations are only appropriate in the most dire family situations involving physical abuse, neglect or abandonment. Contact Legue Law if you believe your case reaches this level to obtain honest, clear advice.

  • Parental rights termination requires “clear and convincing evidence” of abuse or abandonment; it is not undertaken lightly.
  • In order to adopt a child, the adoptive parents must have the rights of the biological parents terminated. This can be done by consent or sometimes involuntarily in cases involving abuse allegations.
  • Once these parental rights are terminated, that parent no longer has a right to visit the children and is relieved of all obligations for their support.

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