Understanding the Termination of Parental Rights

October 28, 2019

Being a parent is a difficult job, but an important one—in fact, the state values the role of mothers and fathers so much that anyone deemed “unfit” could be subject to having their parental rights terminated.

Florida identifies several different statutory ways in which a person’s parental rights can be terminated. This isn’t a responsibility taken lightly, however, and there’s a high bar to taking away a parent’s right to a child. A custody lawyer in Miami, FL can work with you if you have questions or concerns about your legal status as a parent.

What are parental rights?

Parental rights cover the caretaking and protection of a minor child. Normally when a child is born or adopted, the parents have specific legal rights to their children, including the right to decide who has access to the child and what kind of physical, medical, emotional, spiritual and educational care they receive. Courts generally defer to the parents, but in certain cases will decide the parent is a danger to their child.

Here’s a closer look at some of the grounds on which parental rights can be terminated:

  • Written surrender:
    Parents can execute a written and notarized document surrendering their parental rights. Usually, this happens in adoption cases. The only way this can be reversed is if the parent can prove they signed it under fraud or duress.
  • Parental abandonment:
    A parent who has made no effort to take care of their child—including leaving them with family members—or disappears for over 60 days is considered to have abandoned the child.
  • The child’s wellbeing is threatened:
    Any action (or inaction) that threatens the child’s emotional, physical, mental, spiritual or educational well-being is grounds for termination, assuming it provides a significant and ongoing threat.
  • Incarceration:
    Parents who are incarcerated and will be for a significant portion of the child’s life can have their rights terminated. This may also happen if their crimes were particularly violent or sexual in nature.
  • When the child is an adjudicated dependent:
    If the child is an adjudicated dependent and the parents refuse to comply with the case plan, their rights can be terminated.
  • Egregious conduct:
    This occurs when a parent allows egregious abuse or neglect, or otherwise places one of their children in extreme danger.
  • When the parent has had their rights terminated before:
    If a parent has had their children taken away previously, this may be grounds for termination in and of itself.
  • The father legally disclaims the child:
    Fathers can file a written affidavit to disclaim any paternity.
  • The parent refuses to appear in court:
    If a parent simply ignores a notice of adoption, their rights may be taken away.
  • The parent is declared incapacitated: This happens in cases where the parent is unable (medically or otherwise) to take care of the child and/or themselves.

Custody lawyers in Miami, FL

The Law Offices of Granoff & Kessler offers divorce and custody assistance. With combined decades of experience, our skilled and compassionate team can help you through any custody situation. Call our office to schedule a consultation today!

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