Termination of Parental Rights

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What Does Termination of Parental Rights Mean?

Termination of parental rights means the complete end of all responsibilities of a parent towards the child. This includes the legal, social, and financial responsibilities of the parents. If your parental rights have been terminated, it means you are no longer responsible for your child in any way. You would also lose custody or any visitation rights you might have.

Termination of parental rights is a judicial procedure that only the court can decide upon. Parental rights are terminated only when there is a validly issued court order declaring it. In the State of Indiana, only a court with juvenile or probate jurisdiction can order the termination of the parent-child relationship.

Process of Termination of Parental Rights

When necessary, termination of parental rights can be done by the voluntary relinquishment of the parent of his or her parental rights. The voluntary termination of parental rights happens when an adoption agency or the Department of Child Services (DCS) accepts the written consent of the parent to the termination and files for the same in a juvenile court. However, in no instance can a parent file directly for the termination of his or her parental rights, as it is the duty of a parent to support and care for the child until the child reaches the age of emancipation or is emancipated in another way.

Another way for this to happen is when the county Office of Family and Children files a petition for termination of parental rights. This is done after failing to reunite the parents and the child in a child in need of services (CHINS) case. The parents involved may either agree to the termination or fight it. Should the parent choose to disagree with the termination, the court would appoint a "guardian ad litem," or court appointed special advocate, to represent and look after the best interests of the child. Usually, the guardian ad litem would study the case of the child and testify as to what would be in their best interest.

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Under Indiana Code 31-35-2-4, a petition for the termination of parental rights has to show that the child has been removed from the parent for at least six months following a dispositional decree, or after a court has found that "that reasonable efforts for family preservation or reunification are not required" or that for the previous 15 of the "most recent" 22 months, the child has been under the guardianship of a "local office or probation department."

Furthermore, under the said provision, for the petition to be granted, it must prove the following:

Some of the reasons for termination of a parent’s rights include:

Consult a Family Lawyer Now!

One of the rights of a parent in termination proceedings is to be represented by a lawyer, whether it be a counsel of choice or a court-appointed attorney. Maxine E. King is a family lawyer who understands the importance of keeping parental rights for parents. She would be guiding you and advising you of your options every step of the way. Should there be a need for it, she can help you in arguing your case before the court and in appealing termination of parental rights.

If you have urgent legal concerns regarding parental rights, contact Maxine E. King now to get advice on what would be the best way to proceed in line with your family’s best interests.

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