Family courts uphold the parent-child relationship, whether the parents are still together or not. This means that if there is a choice for a child to continue nurturing their relationship with their parent, the courts will choose this option. But if a parent or both parents fail to perform their responsibilities, the court may order the termination of their parental rights.
Who can file the petition?
Normally, it is the other parent who files the petition. But in some cases, other involved parties, such as close family members, legal guardians or child welfare services, may request the termination. These cases include the other parent’s absence, incapacity, incarceration or death.
It is good to note that the petition can be voluntary or involuntary. In voluntary cases, the parent agrees to terminate their parental rights. An involuntary petition may be necessary if the parent objects or cannot be contacted.
Grounds for involuntary termination
When petitioning for the termination, the present parent or an involved party must prove certain circumstances before the court decides whether to approve the request. These include the following:
- Lack of evidence of being a biological parent
- Violence, abuse or neglect
- Conviction of a crime or committing a crime in the child’s presence
- Unsuitability and incapability to care for the child
Generally, any circumstance or action that poses a risk to the child’s well-being and best interests can be a ground for termination of parental rights.
Terminating parental rights is a heavy measure. Once the court orders the same, the parental rights of a parent end permanently. This includes legal, physical and financial responsibilities. Learning more about the process and seeking professional guidance can help parents understand what to expect and how to prepare better for the petition.