Termination of Parental Rights

What are Parental Rights?

Biological parents have automatic legal rights regarding their child. These rights include spending time with the child, making decisions affecting the child’s life and deciding who has access to the child.

Being a parent comes with the legal responsibility of ensuring your child has food, shelter and access to healthcare. Parents are also legally obligated to provide their biological child with financial support.

Although courts generally defer to a parent’s decision regarding his or her child, courts may intervene and limit or even terminate parental rights. Termination of parental rights severs both the rights and obligation a parent has over his or her child.

Why May Parental Rights be Terminated?

Parents may voluntarily choose to have their parental rights terminated. Usually, a voluntary termination of parental rights occurs in the context of adoption. In adoption cases, a biological parents’ rights over the adoptive child will be terminated if the parents have consented to the adoption.

Florida Statutes provide several other reasons why parental rights may be terminated:

  • The parent has abandoned the child;
  • A parent has threatened the well-being of the child;
  • A parent has been incarcerated;
  • When the parent has abused or neglected the child;
  • The child is an adjudicated dependent;
  • When a parent has had other children involuntarily removed from his/her care or has had parental rights over other children involuntarily removed.

Termination of Parental Rights Process

The process for terminating parental rights begins with filing a petition with the family court. Someone who has physical custody of the child, a close relative, or guardian ad litem may file the petition. The petition must include the reasons why you believe parental rights should be terminated.

The court will schedule an adjudicatory hearing on the petition to terminate parental rights. At the hearing, the parties involved will be able to provide evidence and testimony regarding the allegations laid out in the petition. The court’s determination will depend on what would be in the best interest of the child based on the facts presented at the hearing.

Termination of parental rights is a serious action that is irrevocable in most cases. If you are a parent whose parental rights have been threatened, or you are considering filing a petition to terminate a parent’s parental rights, contact us so we could go over your legal options.

Our team can offer you support, help you better understand termination procedures in Florida, and help you make the best decision for you and your new child.  The process can also understandably be overwhelming, emotional, and complicated in many situations. However, working with an experienced Florida family law attorney can make the process much easier for everyone involved. The attorneys at The Florida Probate and Family Law Firm understand your situation, and we will use our extensive experience to secure the most favorable solution in your case. We pride ourselves on understanding our client’s needs and goals, and then use our knowledge, skill, and resources to work towards a desirable outcome. Contact us today to discuss your situation, get your questions answered, and find out how we can help today.

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