Understanding the Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
There are a variety of issues in Texas concerning paternity. Pregnancy can occur unexpectedly. A father may discover that he is not the genetic father of a child and desire to stop paying child support. Sometimes, a parent is simply in no place to have a child. In these situations and others, a parent may terminate parental responsibility to avoid paying child support. These issues can occur as individual suits or part of an adoption hearing. When a child’s rights are terminated as part of an adoption proceeding, a parent voluntarily gives up the rights to his child or the court orders that the first parent’s rights to the child are terminated. Even when a parent does not voluntarily terminate his parental rights, grounds might still exist to terminate the parent’s rights to his child.
Ways to Terminate Parental Rights
In the state of Texas, there are two types of ways to terminate child support.
- Voluntary termination of parental rights occurs when a parent agrees to the termination, signs adequate paperwork reflecting this decision, and then appears in court to testify that he or she is voluntarily giving up parental rights. Voluntary termination of parental rights includes children who are adopted.
- Involuntarily termination of parental rights occurs when a parent’s rights are terminated without agreement to the termination. Involuntarily termination can occur if a parent actively opposes the termination. A variety of neglectful and criminal behaviors result in involuntary termination, including abandonment, abuse, danger, lack of acknowledgement, neglect, nonsupport, and no contact with the child.
What Are Common Reasons for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights?
There are numerous types of parental behavior that can result in the involuntary termination of parental rights, but some of the most common reasons include:
- Abuse or neglect.
- Being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury to a child.
- Parental abandonment.
- Placing a child in an environment that mentally or physically endangers the child.
- Refusal to support the child.
The Texas code provides additional grounds for termination of parental rights, but these various examples provide an idea of situations that lead to involuntary termination.
How Are Parental Termination Cases Handled?
While Texas often initiates and pursues legal matters for involuntary termination of parental rights, voluntary termination of parental rights is slightly more complicated. The process to terminate parental duties actually involve two steps.
- Clear and Convincing Evidence. A parent seeking to involuntarily terminate parental rights must prove demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s conduct satisfies the statutory grounds for termination. “Clear and convincing” is a legal phrase that also means “a preponderance of the evidence” or demonstration that allegations are more likely true than not.
- Best Interest of the Child. A parent seeking voluntary termination of parental rights must also prove that this decision is in the best interest of the child. The best interest of a child is defined by various factors including the child’s desire, the child’s past, present, and future emotional and physical needs, the present and future emotional and physical danger posed to the child, the parenting abilities of the person seeking custody, the plans for the child by those seeking custody, the stability of the proposed home or placement, and any acts or omissions by the prospective parent.
Situations involving the termination of parental rights are often stressful events and frequently require the skill of an experienced family law lawyer. If you are involved in a case involving the termination of parental rights, do not hesitate to Conner & Lindamood, P.C., where our Texas lawyers are eager to begin working for you today.