Something our office gets a lot of questions regarding is the termination of parental rights. Many of these questions are from fathers who do not want to pay child support. I generally have to tell them that is not a good reason for terminating rights.
However, sometimes the question comes from a parent who is the primary caretaker of the child and has not seen their ex or received any sort of support from the other parent in years. Today’s blog topic will examine what are some valid reasons under the family code for involuntarily terminating parental rights in Texas.
Chapter 161, Texas Family Code
A court may under this chapter order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a parent has:
- Voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
- Voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least three months;
- 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;
- Knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
- Engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
- failed to support the child in accordance with the parent's ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;
- abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child's identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;
- Voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the child beginning at a time during her pregnancy with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;
- Contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court under Subchapter D, Chapter 261, Texas Family Code;
- been the major cause of: 1) the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education Code; or 2) the child's absence from the child's home without the consent of the parents or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return;
- been the major cause of: (1) the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education Code; or (2) the child's absence from the child's home without the consent of the parents or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return;
- Executed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights as provided by Chapter 161, Texas Family Code;
- been convicted or has been placed on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, for being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a child under the following sections of the Penal Code or adjudicated under Title 3 for conduct that caused the death or serious injury of a child and that would constitute a violation of one of the following Penal Code sections:
- Section 19.02 (murder);
- Section 19.03 (capital murder);
- Section 19.04 (manslaughter);
- Section 21.11 (indecency with a child);
- Section 22.01 (assault);
- Section 22.011 (sexual assault);
- Section 22.02 (aggravated assault);
- Section 22.021 (aggravated sexual assault);
- Section 22.04 (injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual);
- Section 22.041 (abandoning or endangering child);
- Section 25.02 (prohibited sexual conduct);
- Section 43.25 (sexual performance by a child);
- Section 43.26 (possession or promotion of child pornography);
- Section 21.02 (continuous sexual abuse of young child or children);
- Section 20A.02(a)(7) or (8) (trafficking of persons); and
- Section 43.05(a)(2) (compelling prostitution);
- had her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that the mother's conduct was in violation of § 161.001(1)(D) or (E), Texas Family Code, or substantially equivalent provisions of the law of another state;
- constructively abandoned the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than six months, and: (i) the department has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent; (ii) the parent has not regularly visited or maintained significant contact with the child; and (iii) the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the child with a safe environment;
- failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the mother to obtain the return of the child who have been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child's removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the child;
- used a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child, and (1) failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program; or (2) after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program continued to abuse a controlled substance;
- Knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the mother's conviction of an offense and confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;
- been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription, as defined by § 261.001(7), Texas Family Code.
- Voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency infant care provider under § 262.302, Texas Family Code, without expressing an intent to return for the child;
161.005. TERMINATION WHEN PARENT IS PETITIONER
A parent may file a suit for termination of the petitioner's parent-child relationship.
Best Interest of the Child and Clear and Convincing evidence
As mentioned above a parent will have to show:
- One of the above reasons by clear and convincing evidence but also
- That termination is in the best interest of the child.
Clear and Convincing
Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard of proof than “preponderance of the evidence,” which we see most frequently in civil disputes.
Preponderance of the evidence merely requires that a party demonstrate that his or her allegations are more likely true than not.
The clear and convincing evidence standard requires a party to prove that his or her allegations are substantially more likely true than not.
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 parent child relationship is not a proper one; and
- any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
TERMINATING PARENTAL CAN BE AN EXPENSIVE
Something to consider when asking the court to terminate the other parent’s rights is that:
- requires filing a lawsuit and proving the requirements set out in the Texas Family Code
- You must prove one or more of the above reasons
- Even if you do or if the other parent voluntarily agreed to terminate rights, you still must prove it is in the child’s best interests.
- A judge may say no
Child Support Obligations Will be Terminated
Another thing to consider is that terminating a parent’s rights terminates all child support obligations.
That can be a substantial amount of lost support for your child both in:
- Regular child support and
- Medical support for health care expenses
When I bring this up I frequently here that the other parents support is not needed. This may be true today but life changes and the future is not certain:
- jobs are lost
- medical emergencies happen
- Life long illness happen
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
- Relinquishment and Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
- Terminating Parental Rights in Texas on the Absent Parent
- Voluntarily Relinquishing Your Parental Rights in Texas
- What rights does a father have in Texas?
- Fathers' Rights: Children Born Out of Wedlock in Texas?
- Mom Versus Dad Who Gets the rights? - Custodial Rights Vs. Non-Custodial Rights in Texas
- Husband Not the Father, what do I do in a Texas Divorce?
- I am not the biological father but I want to be - Paternity by Estoppel?
- What do I do if I have overpaid child support in Texas?
- Child Custody Basics in Texas
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