Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of parental rights usually concerns a father and mother who have already been established as the legal parent of a child through birth or another legal process. In Texas, only the court has the power to grant  termination of parental rights.  If you are the father or the mother of a child and you wish to pursue termination of parental rights case, then you should contact an attorney who can explain your rights.

Termination of Parental Rights Lawyer in Brownsville, Texas

The attorneys at The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. can help both mothers and fathers pursue a case involving a termination of parental rights.  Additionally, we can help pursue a paternity order if necessary, before the termination of rights case. You can meet with our attorneys, so we can explain the legal process for engaging in a termination of parental rights case.

Our Brownsville-based family law attorneys represent clients across the counties of Cameron, Willacy, and Hidalgo.  Call our 956-504-2211 to receive a confidential consultation.

Overview of Termination of Parental Rights

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Who Can Petition for Termination of Parental Rights?

The following people are allowed to file a petition for termination of parental rights case involving a child:

  • Either birth parent;
  • A child-placing agency;
  • A male individual previously acknowledged or adjudicated as the father of the child, who is not the genetic father of the child;
  • A former stepparent of the child;
  • A close relative of the child;
  • A foster parent of the child;
  • A prospective adoptive parent;
  • An individual with conservatorship of the child;
  • An individual with visitation rights to the child;
  • An individual in care, possession, and control of the child; or
  • An individual who is living or previously lived in the same household as the child;

These people can petition for themselves if they hold parental rights, or petition to have someone have their parental rights removed. You should consult with a family law attorney to know more about your eligibility to petition for termination of parental rights of a child.

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Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

The court will always assess the bests interests of the child before determining whether or not to grant a voluntary petition of termination of parental rights.  There are some cases in which the court can deny a voluntary petition to terminate parental rights if the court believes the parent’s petition is not in the best interest of the child.  The court can also choose to reject a voluntary petition for termination of parental rights if the parent is relinquishing his or her own parental rights unwillingly or only to aggravate the other parent.

In cases of adoption, where the birth parents are voluntarily giving up their parental rights, state law requires that both birth parents, mother, and father, sign an affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights.  At-birth-adoptions need that both parents sign the affidavit no less than 48 hours after the birth of the child.  However, if the other parent has been physically or emotionally absent from the child’s life or during the pregnancy of the child, has passed away, or has gotten his parental rights terminated, his permission is not solicited in case of an adoption case.

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What Happens After a Termination of Parental Rights?

The following rights can be taken away from a biological parent during termination of parental rights:

  • Receiving information about the child
  • Written communication with the child
  • Limited access to the child

The termination of parental rights can be permanent if it is based on someone’s else adoption of the child.  Once the other individuals have adopted the child, the adoptive parents have more power over the child than the birth parents.  The adoptive parents can always allow limited contact between the child and the birth parents but are not required.

Termination of parental rights does not automatically end a parent’s obligation to pay for child support.  Even if the child is in custody of the state of Texas or another individual, the biological parent can still be ordered to pay child support to the state or the other individual in custody.  Violating a termination of rights agreement can be enforceable by law if it leads to issues between the birth parent and the individual in custody of the child.

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Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

There are cases in which the state may choose to end the parent-child relationship automatically without the voluntary consent of the parent.  The court will take into account any of the following:

  • Any parent history of domestic violence (a case involving domestic violence can lead to the initiation of a protection order)
  • The parent’s ability to care for the child both physically and emotionally;
  • The parent’s own mental, emotional, or physical health that impacts his or her ability to care for the child;
  • Any record of termination of parental rights involving other children;
  • Any parent history of substance abuse or addictions during pregnancy and post-partum;
  • The parent’s criminal record;
  • Any parent history of voluntary abandonment;
  • Any parent history of voluntary abandonment of the mother of the child with knowledge of the pregnancy during pregnancy and post-partum or failure to provide support to the mother during the pregnancy and child post-partum;
  • The best interest of the child;
  • The parent has provided drugs for the child;
  • The parent declined immunizations for the child; or
  • The father of the child does not register himself as a parent with the paternity registry within a specific time frame.

Tex. Family Code § 161.07(b) states, “If a parent of the child has not been personally served in a suit in which the Department of Family and Protective Services seeks termination, the department must make a diligent effort to locate that parent.”

If a former stepparent is looking to adopt the child, he or she can do so without the birth parent’s consent to termination of parental rights if one parent’s parental rights have already been terminated and the stepparent meets the conservatorship requirements.  An attorney that is familiar with family law is necessary when termination of parental rights case is contested or will most likely be challenged by the opposite party in the case.

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Additional Resources

Child Protective Services (CPS) | Termination of Parental Rights – The Child Protective Services (CPS) handbook dedicates to providing detailed information involving family cases that require a child.  The CPS handbook explains termination of parental rights in simpler terms, according to the Texas legislature.

Fathers4EqualRights | Q&A – The Fathers4EqualRights page responds to lingering questions about the father’s role in different family law cases in Texas.  The page answers questions that fathers may have regarding their termination of parental rights cases.

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Attorney for Termination of Parental Rights in Cameron County, Texas

Whether you’re the father, mother, or legal guardian of the child contesting termination of parental rights, you’ll need legal representation you can trust.  Termination of parental rights cases are complicated because they can turn people against each other if they don’t agree on the child’s best interests.  You will need an attorney for termination of parental rights who can represent what you believe is best for the child.

Here at The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. , we understand that termination of parental rights cases are difficult to maneuver if you’re not familiar with Texas laws or if you do not know how to advocate for yourself inside a court.  Consulting with one of our attorneys can give you a better understanding about your position in the case, and how to best achieve your most favorable outcome.

The Gracia Law Firm, P.C. works with residents of Brownsville, and clients living in Willacy County, Hidalgo County, and Cameron County. Call us at 956-504-2211 for a free, confidential consultation.