Today I met with a potential client asking for advice on whether they could terminate parental rights of their child's other parent. In this case the parent had been absent for several years and had not provided any support. In today’s blog I thought I would spend some time discussing this topic.
Terminating Parental Rights under Section 161.001(2) of the Texas Family Code:
There are many different reasons that a parent’s rights can be terminated but the applicable law in this situation under Texas Law, states that the rights of a parent may be terminated involuntarily if it can be demonstrated to the Court:
- doing so is in the best interests of the minor child and
- “voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months”
A cursory reading of the statute makes it clear that the potential client I met might have case for terminating the other parent’s rights to the child.
The termination of parental rights can be a difficult process because Courts consider a drastic measure. Before a Court will terminate a parent’s rights 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.
An involuntary termination of parental rights requires:
- A hearing in which a Judge or Jury finds that it would be in the child’s “Best Interest” that the parent’s rights be terminated and
- That one of the other requirements under section 161.001(2) have been met
Best Interest of the Child
The Court will consider what are known as the “Holley Factors” when trying to determine what would be in the child’s best interest. Those factors include:
- the child’s desires;
- the child’s present and future emotional and physical needs;
- the present and future emotional and physical danger to the child;
- the parenting abilities of the persons seeking custody;
- the programs available to the persons seeking custody to help promote the best interest of the child;
- the plans for the child by those persons seeking custody;
- the stability of the home or proposed placement;
- the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate that the existing parentchild relationship is not a proper one; and
- any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
Things to consider
- The court may appoint an attorney to represent your child - Often called an "attorney ad litem", this attorney will gather facts, interview involved parties and witnesses, appear at hearings, and make recommendations to the Judge.
- Another attorney may be appointed to represent an absent or unknown parent.
- This type of case can be expensive. In addition to paying for an attorney to help you with the termination. You may also have to pay for the attorney for your child and to locate the absentee parent if this is unknown.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Spring, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
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