The termination of parental rights is referred to as the “civil death penalty” because there is nothing worse a Court can do to a person than to legally and permanently remove that person’s parental rights. Because of the severity of termination, it can be difficult to have one’s rights terminated. There must be good cause for a Court to legally remove a child’s parent from its life and there is a process to completing a termination suit.
There are two types of termination of parental rights: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary termination occurs when the parent is not in agreement with the termination however their parental rights are still terminated because a Judge felt it was in the best interest of the child. Grounds for termination include neglect, abuse, or abandonment. Often involuntary termination is achieved due to the involvement of Child Protective Services and documented abuse or neglect. Texas Family Code §161.001 sets forth the grounds a Court may consider when deciding to terminate the rights of a parent.
This route to termination takes longer as it requires a hearing and a finding by the Judge or jury that termination is in the best interest of the child. Once an involuntary termination has been granted, that person is forever stripped of their rights to the child or children the subject of the termination suit.
Voluntary termination occurs when a parent voluntarily signs an Affidavit for Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights and agrees to the termination of his or her rights. This document must be notarized and filed with the court. Voluntary termination often coincides with a step-parent adoption because courts are not apt to grant a termination of parental rights unless there is another parent willing to step in and adopt the child.
Some people are under the impression that a parent can elect to terminate his or her rights and avoid having to pay child support. The Texas Family Code sets forth specific criteria for granting a termination and avoiding the obligation to pay support is not one of listed criteria. If a Court grants a termination of a biological parent’s rights, the former parent no longer has a future obligation to support the child. However, the termination does not absolve the former parent’s liability for any child support arrearage that accrued before the termination was granted and that person is still responsible for that debt.
It is very difficult to have the rights of your child’s other parent terminated simply because they aren’t around or aren’t paying child support. While your child’s mother may be an absentee mother or your child’s father may be $20,000 behind in child support, the Court is looking at what is in the best interest of the child and legally ending the relationship between a parent may not be in the best interest.
Termination of parental rights is a very serious matter. Whether you are a parent looking to have the other parent’s rights terminated or you are a parent fighting against the termination of your own rights, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC so that our experienced Houston attorneys can help you!
Disclaimer: The material obtained from this site is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice regarding your own legal situation.