Sometimes after a divorce, one parent has little involvement in a child’s life. The other parent doing all the work may feel they are better off without the other parent and seek to terminate their rights as parents. One question we get at Puhl Law Group, P.C. is, “When is it Appropriate to Seek Termination of Parental Rights?” This is what usually happens in these circumstances. The couple goes through a divorce and visitation and child support is established. Sometime after, the non-custodial parent, aka the possessory conservator, stops being involved for whatever reason in the child’s life. The other parent, known as managing conservator in Texas, decides they would like to terminate the rights of the other parent since the other parent is un-involved with raising the child. One reason they might want to do this is to protect the child from the other parent’s on-again/off-again approach to parenting which raises and again dashes the child’s hopes for a stable and loving relationship with that parent. The managing conservator often feels that no relationship with the other parent is better than sporadic interest or harmful contact with the possessory conservator. They may also consider that repeatedly chasing the other parent for child support is too frustrating. You must first file a lawsuit proving the reasons why you would like to terminate parental rights. There is voluntary and involuntary termination of parental rights. According to Texas Family Code chapter 161, if you seek the involuntary termination of parental rights, you must prove that if the child and parent relationship continues it is dangerous to that child. This risk must outweigh the downfalls of the other parent raising the child alone.
Reasons for Seeking Termination of Parental Rights
The Texas Family Code lists the following specific reasons that a parent may seek termination of parental rights:
- Child has been left alone or with a non-parent and expressed intent not to return;
- Left the child alone or with a non-parent without providing support and stayed away for at least 3 months;
- Left the child alone or with someone else without support for 6 months;
- Endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the child on purpose or through neglect (including criminal involvement, drug use, and domestic violence);
- Abused or neglected another child;
- Failed to support the child according to the parent’s ability for at least a one-year period ending within 6 months of the date of the filing of the case;
- Knew of the pregnancy and failed to provide medical support for the mother and support for the child;
- Kept the child out of school or away from home;
- Killed or seriously injured another child;
- Had his or her parent-child relationship with another child involuntarily terminated by the court;
- Is imprisoned and unable to care for the child for at least two years;
- Caused the child to be born addicted to alcohol or a non-prescription controlled substance; or
- Committed child sexual abuse, sexual assault, or incest which resulted in the victim becoming pregnant with the parent’s child.
Other reasons the state might terminate the rights of the parent are if the state needs to help manage the affairs of the child or terminating the relationship makes the child adoptable. You must also establish in court that termination is in the best interest of the child. Parents interested in terminating parent’s right should also know that it terminates all child support obligations too. Therefore, a parent whose rights are terminated is no longer required to provide child support. Be aware that child support also includes health insurance and un-reimbursed medical expenses. Terminating parental rights is not reversible. The decision to terminate the rights of a parent, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, is a serious decision which requires considerable thought. It is best to speak with an experienced family law lawyer. Puhl Law Group, P.C. has the experience you need. Please call to schedule an appointment today.