Termination Of Parental Rights
There are two ways a parents’ rights to their children may be terminated permanently: voluntary termination and involuntary termination. While both types occur in different ways, the result in both circumstances is the inability of the parent to see their child again or have any rights or decision-making authority with respect to their children.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
While rare, a parent does have the right to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. In most circumstances, this happens when a parent wants to give their child up for adoption at birth. Another example could be when a parent allows a step-parent to adopt their child. In both cases, the parent’s rights to their child will be completely terminated. Courts are often reticent to allow a parent to terminate their parental rights, and will attempt to ensure that every avenue is taken before this final and permanent option is granted. (Note: voluntary termination is only available to a parent when there is someone else who is going to be financially responsible for the child. There are countless cases where parents seek to terminate their rights and they are denied because there is no one seeking to adopt the child and take financial responsibility).
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Under very rare and egregious circumstances, a court will terminate a parent’s rights to their child involuntarily. In most cases, a court will attempt to allow a parent to have visitation and time with their child. However, there are some circumstances under which the court will determine that it is in the best interest of the child that the parental rights are terminated. Some of the common examples of when a court will terminate parental rights include:
- Severe abuse, neglect or sexual abuse of the child
- Severe abuse, neglect or sexual abuse of other children by the parent
- Serious and continuing mental illness of the parent
- Serious and continuing (long-term) incapacitation of the parent due to alcohol or drug abuse
- Failure by the parent to either contact or support the child
- The court has issued another involuntary termination of the parent’s rights with respect to another child
- A parent is expected to be imprisoned for a substantial period of time
Sole Custody vs. Termination of Parental Rights
It is important to note that there is a definite distinction between sole custody and termination of parental rights. Sole custody will allow one parent to have full physical and legal rights to the child. However, in cases of sole custody, the other parent will still have the right to visit their child and be involved in their life.
Termination of parental rights is when the court decides that the child is better off without any contact with that parent, and the parent will not have any right to even visit the child. The parent will be considered the same as a stranger to the child, and have no right to any physical custody or have any decision-making authority with respect to the child.
Let Us Help You Today
If you are unsure of your rights regarding the custody of your child, contact the Atlanta family attorneys at the Solomon Firm at 404-565-0641 today for a free consultation and to help you ensure that your parental rights are protected.