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When Can My Parental Rights Be Taken Away From Me?

Father Carrying Children, Sims & Purzer, Attorneys at Law, PLLC

As a father, one of your most important responsibilities is to provide your child with love, care, and support. However, in some cases, circumstances may arise that make it impossible for a parent to fulfill these obligations. When this happens, the state of Texas may step in to protect the child's best interests by terminating a father’s parental rights.

In Texas, termination of parental rights is a serious matter that can only be ordered by a court.

There are several grounds under which a court may terminate a father’s parental rights, including:

Involuntary grounds for termination

Involuntary grounds for termination of parental rights in Texas involve situations where a court may terminate parental rights without the consent of the parent or legal guardian. These grounds are typically established through a court proceeding where the state presents evidence of the parent's inability or failure to provide adequate care for their child.

The following are some of the most common involuntary grounds for termination of parental rights in Texas:

  • Abandonment. When a parent leaves their child with no intention of returning or providing for their needs, the court may terminate their parental rights. In Texas, abandonment is defined as leaving a child alone or in the possession of another person without providing for their care and support for a period of at least three months. If the child is left with a parent, a period of six months without care or support will amount to abandonment. Additionally, abandoning a child for any period of time will be grounds for termination IF the child was left without any means of identifying the child’s identity. Finally, abandoning the pregnant mother while not providing for any support during and after the pregnancy is also a ground for involuntary termination of parental rights.

  • Abuse or Neglect. When a parent is found to have subjected their child to abuse or neglect, the court may terminate their parental rights. This can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, as well as neglect of the child's basic needs, such as food, shelter, and medical care.

  • Endangerment. When a parent's behavior puts their child at risk of harm or danger, the court may terminate their parental rights. This can include exposing the child to illegal drugs or criminal activity, as well as failing to protect the child from a known danger.

  • Mental Illness or Incapacity. When a parent's mental illness or incapacity prevents them from providing adequate care for their child, the court may terminate their parental rights. This can include situations where the parent is unable to provide for the child's basic needs due to mental illness or disability.

  • Failure to Participate in Court-Ordered Services. When a court orders a parent to participate in services such as parenting classes, drug treatment, or counseling, and the parent fails to comply, the court may terminate their parental rights.

  • Being previously convicted in a crime against a child or the parent of your child. Under the Texas family code, a father’s parental rights may be terminated if he has previously been convicted of a crime done on a child such as murder, sexual assault, possession or promotion of child pornography, compelling prostitution and other similar crimes. Additionally, if a father is convicted of murdering the mother of his child, his parental rights may also be terminated.

Termination of the rights of an alleged father

An "alleged father" is a man who is believed to be the biological father of a child but whose paternity has not been legally established. The term is often used when a child is born to unmarried parents, and the father's identity is not immediately clear or acknowledged by the mother.

In Texas, the rights of an alleged father may be terminated under certain circumstances. Here are some examples:

  • Failure to respond to a served citation. If an alleged father is served with a court order related to the paternity of a child, he must respond within a certain time frame. He can admit to being the biological father or file a counterclaim if he believes he is not the father. If he fails to respond, his parental rights may be terminated.

  • Failure to register with the paternity registry. If a father does not register with the paternity registry when a petition for adoption or termination of the parent-child relationship is filed while the child is under one year of age, he may lose his parental rights. If the child is over one year of age when the same petition is filed, the father's parental rights may be terminated if the petitioner has made reasonable efforts to locate him but his identity and location remain unknown or if his identity is known but he cannot be located.

  • Failure to be served. If a man adds his name to the paternity registry but the person trying to terminate his parental rights or adopt the child can't personally serve him with legal documents, even after considerable effort and due diligence, then his rights as a father may still be taken away.

Termination of the rights of a petitioner-father

In Texas, a man who signed a document saying he's the father or was legally declared the father without any genetic testing, can ask to end his parental rights. But first, he must prove that he's not the biological father and that he signed or agreed to paternity because he was lied to. If he can show these things are true, he can ask the court to end his parental rights. However, he cannot file this particular petition if:

  • The man is the child’s adoptive father. This means that if a man has legally adopted a child, he cannot later file a petition to terminate his parental rights to that child. This is because adoption creates a permanent legal relationship between the adoptive parent and the child, and the adoptive parent assumes all of the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. Therefore, the adoptive parent cannot later terminate their parental rights to the child unless there are extreme circumstances, such as abuse or neglect.

  • The child was conceived using assisted reproduction, and the man gave consent to the procedure for his wife under Texas law. Under Texas law, if a father gave consent to assisted reproduction (in-vitro fertilization, sperm donation, etc.), he cannot file a petition to terminate his parental rights to the child resulting from the procedure.

  • The man is the intended father in a court-approved gestational agreement under Texas law. If a man has agreed to be the intended father of a child through a court-approved gestational agreement, he cannot later challenge his parental rights through a specific legal petition outlined in the same chapter of the law.

  • During the petition, the man is determined by the court to be the genetic father. If a man who initiates a legal case to end his parental rights as the father of a child is proven to be the biological father of the child through genetic testing, he cannot request the termination of his parental rights in the same case anymore.


At Sims & Purzer, PLLC, we understand the importance of providing our clients with not just legal guidance, but also emotional support throughout the legal process. Our experienced attorneys have a positive and empathetic attitude towards our clients, which allows us to build strong relationships and help our clients get to the finish line with comfort and confidence.

If you have concerns related to adoption, divorce, child custody, or any other Family Law legal issue, we are here to help. Don't hesitate to give us a call at (210)-226-2227 and schedule a consultation with our firm. We'll be happy to answer your questions and provide you with the legal support you need to move forward with your case.



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