"Termination of parental rights is the legal process where the court ends the parent-child relationship between a child and one or both of the child’s parents. This means that the parent whose rights are terminated will have zero legal rights to the child." (Texas Law Help)
Severing the parent-child relationship is very hard to do in Texas, as it should be. If your parental rights are terminated, you are no longer the parent of the child or children. You don’t have the right to see them, raise them, discipline them, or even contact them. A new birth certificate can even be issued, with your name removed from the document. It is very, very serious and the courts treat termination cases as such.
If you pursue “Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights” then you must prove one or more reasons in the Texas Family Code. If the other parent voluntarily agreed to terminate rights, you still must prove it is in the child’s best interests. This can be an expensive pursuit and there is no guarantee that the court will agree to terminate parental rights. You may spend thousands of dollars to get before a judge only to be told no. Judges are cautious about terminating parental rights because of a parent’s constitutional rights.
When are Parental Rights “Involuntarily Terminated"?
Judges will typically only grant an involuntary termination of parental rights in three situations.
First, the risk to the child of a continued legal relationship between the parent and child is so dangerous to the child that the risk of a continued relationship outweighs the risk that the child will not be adequately supported by a single parent.
Second, the other parent is absent or a danger to the child; and there is a need for the state to manage the affairs of the child. (This is rare and typically only happens in CPS cases where both parents are a danger to the child.)
Third, the termination of parental rights makes way for adoption. Otherwise, it is extremely unlikely that you will terminate the parent’s rights.
Is involuntary termination necessary in your case?
A judge may also agree to a termination of a parent’s rights if the parent:
Abandoned the child or expressed the intention to not support or return.
Has endangered the child
Has engaged in criminal conduct
Is otherwise unfit
Has neglected or abused the child
Kept the child away from home or out of school
Is imprisoned and cannot care for the child for two or more years
If You are involved in one of these cases, you will certainly need a skilled family law attorney experienced in such litigation.
Termination of parental rights cases can be complex, and it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about your particular situation.
An attorney can help especially if your case is contested, you are afraid for your children’s or your own safety, the other parent has a lawyer, or you are in need of child support.
Parental rights may be terminated by court order, only:
If the parent signs an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, that parent agrees that the court should terminate their parental rights to the child.
If the parent signs an affidavit of waiver of interest in the child, the parent agrees to give up any interest they have in the child
Either of these affidavits do not terminate parental rights until a judge signs a court order to terminate those rights.
When can a “Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)” Case begin?
“A termination case based on the other parent’s failure to support a child for a year must be filed no later than 6 months after the parent begins to support the child (if at all).”
In regard to a mistaken paternity case, a man must file no later than 2 years after finding out that he is not the genetic father or has reason to believe he is not the child’s genetic father.
If a foster parent has had possession of a child for at least 12 months, he or she must file a termination case no later than 90 days after the possession ends.
Trust Your Legal Team.
You should have a trusted team behind you that will fiercely advocate for your position. Your attorney should have experience with the litigation process and be able to guide you with their professional experience in helping others in similar situations.
Always ask your lawyer questions about anything you are uncertain of. In fact, a good advisor will take the lead and ask you questions along the way. Your attorney should listen closely to your responses and questions to be sure you understand your options. By being honest and trusting your legal team, they will best be able to help you get your best outcome.
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Sims & Purzer, Attorneys at Law, PLLC is a Family Law firm serving San Antonio and greater South Texas. We are a family-run boutique law firm that works to secure the solutions that matter most to you and your family.