A Fervent and Determined Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
Many considerations are involved in a case for terminating parental rights, from the child’s best interests to the parents’ caretaking abilities. If you are facing termination of your parental rights, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Laura E. Copp in Amarillo for legal support.
What Are the Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights?
A suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) is the legal process where the court terminates the relationship between a child and one or both of their parents. According to Texas law, a ground for termination of parental rights could be if the parent:
- voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another who is not a parent and expressed an intent not to return;
- voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of someone who is not a parent, failed to provide adequate support, and remained away for a period of at least 3-6 months;
- knowingly placed the child or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endangered their physical or emotional well-being;
- engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangered the child’s physical or emotional well-being;
- abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;
- voluntarily and with knowledge of the pregnancy abandoned the mother of the child from her pregnancy through the birth of the child, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment, and remained away from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;
- refused to submit to an order of Court during a CPS investigation;
- been the major cause of a child’s failure to be enrolled in school or the cause of the child’s absence from school for a substantial length of time;
- executed an affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights;
- been convicted or placed on probation for being criminally responsible for the death or serious bodily injury of a child;
- had their parental rights terminated as to other children under certain conditions;
- constructively abandoned their children to the Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS);
- failed to abide by a court Order that establishes actions necessary for a parent to have a child returned from CPS;
- been the cause of a child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance;
- voluntarily delivered a child to a designated emergency infant care provider and expressed an intent not to return;
- been convicted of the murder of the other parent, attempted murder of the other parent, criminal solicitation of murder of the other parent, or the sexual assault of the other parent; or
- been placed on probation for sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault of the other parent.
A judge may also terminate a parent’s rights without an agreement (“involuntary” termination) based on the following circumstances:
- the parent abandoned or did not support the child;
- the parent endangered the child;
- the parent engaged in criminal conduct;
- the parent is otherwise unfit.
In adoption scenarios, the termination of one or both parental rights is necessary. In a step-parent adoption, the rights of only the former parent of the child need to be terminated; if grandparents or other persons are intending to adopt, the parental rights of both parents must be terminated before the adoption can take place.
Who Can File for Termination?
Either parent of the child can file a termination of parental rights case. Those who are not the child’s parents can file a termination of parental rights case if they are:
- a person with court-ordered access or visitation to the child;
- a person alleging to be the father of the child;
- a foster parent of the child placed by DFPS in your home for at least 12 months ending not more than 90 days before termination filing date;
- a prospective adoptive parent who has been given standing under a statement to confer standing;
the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sister, brother, aunt,
uncle, niece, or nephew, and:
- both parents are dead;
- both parents, the surviving parent, or managing conservator agree;
- the child’s present circumstances will significantly harm the child’s physical health or emotional development;
- a person who had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the termination filing date and they are not a foster parent;
- they have been designated the managing conservator of the child in an affidavit of relinquishment or have been given written consent to adopt the child; or
- they have lived with the child and the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the termination filing date, and the child’s parent, guardian, or conservator has died.
Additionally, certain representatives and agencies may also file a termination of parental rights case, including:
- the guardian of the child’s person or estate;
- the child filing the case through an authorized representative;
- a governmental entity;
- the Department of Family and Protective Services; or
- a licensed child-placing agency.
Note thatthe person seeking to terminate the parental rights of a parent bears the burden of proving to the judge that this drastic action is really in the best interest of the child. While the courts have broad discretion in determining what is in the child’s “best interest,” they consider the following factors following the Texas Supreme Court case Holley v. Adams as a guide in termination of parental rights cases:
- the desires of the child;
- the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
- the parental abilities of the individual seeking custody;
- the plans for the child made by the individual seeking custody;
- the stability of the home or proposed placement;
- the acts or omissions of the parent that indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
- any excuse for the parent’s acts or omissions.
Seek an Experienced Family Lawyer in Amarillo, TX
The legal process for termination of parental rights can be tough to navigate. If you are a parent involved in a termination case, contact Attorney Laura E. Copp for legal counsel. Attorney Copp can assess the facts of your situation and provide you the legal guidance you need throughout your termination case.
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