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What does it mean to terminate parental rights?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Firm News |

Sadly, not all parents are able to make the best choices for their children; some may even put them in danger. While every biological parent has rights and responsibilities toward their child, the court may decide to end them if the child’s well-being is in jeopardy.

Biological parents have the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The school, religion, and medical treatment a child receives are all decisions a parent can make. Biological parents are also responsible for their child’s behavior and paying child support.

These rights and responsibilities go away once the court terminates parental rights. The parent will have no say in their child’s development and may be restricted from further contact with them.

Reasons to terminate parental rights

The court has the authority to terminate parental rights if it finds that either parent poses a serious threat to the child’s health or safety. There are a few situations in which the court could decide to terminate parental rights:

  • If the parent fails to communicate or visit their child in the last six months
  • If the child is entered into the foster care system and the parent does not attempt to claim them after a year
  • If the parent is severely ill, physically or mentally disabled
  • If the parent abuses their child
  • If the parent has an alcohol or drug addiction
  • If the parent is convicted of a crime, especially violent crimes toward children

Anybody with a legal interest in the child’s future may file for termination. Grandparents, the other parent, or the Mississippi Department of Human Rights may petition the court to revoke the rights of an abusive parent.

It is also possible for a parent to voluntarily give up their parental rights. Reasons for this can vary from not wanting to be a parent owing to an unexpected pregnancy to not having a meaningful bond with their child.

The termination of parental rights is also a key step in the adoption process. A child’s biological parent may voluntarily or involuntarily terminate their parental rights to allow someone else to care for their child.

Children come with a significant amount of responsibilities that not all parents can handle. The decision to terminate parental rights can have a significant impact on the child. Before pushing through, it is best to consult a family law attorney.