No matter how ill-equipped you may believe your child’s other parent is to be a mother or a father, seeking to terminate their parental rights is a big step. Courts don’t do that without good reason. Unless a legal parent agrees to give up their parental rights (for example, if the child’s stepparent wants to adopt the child), the court will need to see grounds that a parent’s rights should be terminated.
If a parent has had no contact with a child for an extended period and/or failed to provide financial support, that may be grounds for termination of parental rights. If a parent is unable to be located, a judge may revoke their parental rights.
A person may also lose their rights if they’re unable to parent because of mental illness or severe drug or alcohol addiction. In addition, a person may lose their parental rights for involving their child in criminal activity. If they’ve been convicted of a felony for a violent crime against anyone in the family, they may have their parental rights terminated.
A number of types of child abuse can also result in the termination of someone’s parental rights. Any sexual abuse can cost a person those rights. So can ongoing or severe physical or psychological abuse. Neglect of the child (or other children in the home) may be another reason parental rights are terminated.
People often think of fathers as the ones who usually lose their parental rights. However, it can happen to mothers as well for any of the reasons noted above. Further, women whose newborns are affected by drug addiction at birth can lose their rights as well.
People can seek to have a parent’s rights terminated for a number of reasons. Sometimes they have a new spouse who’s essentially been their co-parent for some time, while the other legal parent has no relationship with the child.
Sometimes foster parents want to adopt a child whose own parents can’t or won’t take care of them. In some cases, a mother or father wants to ensure that their child’s other parent has no rights or access to a child because they consider the other parent a danger to the child’s safety or well-being. If you’re in any of these situations, it’s essential to seek experienced legal guidance.