Terminating an individual’s parental rights is a very serious matter, whether the court takes away those rights or the parent relinquishes them willingly. In parent-child relationships, the legal parents inherently have certain rights and responsibilities regarding their children. If, in any situation, those responsibilities are not being upheld, the court may terminate parental rights if it is in the best interest of the child. Sometimes, a parent chooses to voluntarily give up his or her rights, forfeiting any right to see or contact their child and their ability to have a say in how the child is raised.

In the event you are at risk of losing your parental rights, or if you are considering terminating your rights or those of your child’s other parent, it’s extremely important for you to understand exactly what these rights entail.

About Parental Rights

The state of Georgia grants the legal parents fundamental rights regarding the upbringing of their child. These rights include the authority to have a relationship with their children, to see them, decide how they are raised, and to make decisions regarding their healthcare, education, religion, extracurricular activities, and more. These rights are inherent and will usually continue until the child reaches the age of 18, unless those rights are terminated. When parental rights are terminated, the obligations of the parent change. This means the parent has no say in the child’s upbringing, no right to visit or speak to the child, and no associated responsibilities. However, in many cases, a parent is still responsible for providing financial support for the child.

Parental Rights Might Be Terminated In Any Of The Following Circumstances:

  • Abandonment: The parent does not communicate with the child for at least 6 months.
  • Permanent neglect: If a child enters the foster care system and the parent does not make any plans for the future of their children for more than one year after the child entered foster care, they could lose rights based on neglect.
  • Mental illness or mental disability: The parent becomes mentally unstable or deficient and is no longer able to care for their child.
  • Severe abuse: The child is found to have suffered severe, repeated abuse while under the parent’s care. This includes sexual abuse and neglect.
  • Alcohol or drug incapacity: The parent is incapacitated due to excessive use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Felony convictions: The parent is convicted of certain felonies, especially those involving violent crimes or domestic abuse. Or, if a parent is imprisoned for a long period of time, forcing the child into foster care, he or she may lose parental rights.

Adoption Requires Termination Of Parental Rights

The voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights is necessary for an adoption to take place. If, for example, a stepmother wishes to adopt their stepchild, the rights of the biological mother must be terminated for the adoption to take place. Or, if a couple wants to adopt a baby, the parental rights of the legal parents must be terminated.

Can Termination End Child Support Obligation?

If a child is adopted by another party, terminating parental rights will terminate the child support obligations. In other cases, a judge may agree to terminate the child support obligation with the termination of parental rights. However, that type of agreement is extremely rare. In most cases, those other than adoption, the child support obligation remains.

If you are dealing with a parental rights situation, our firm can help. Contact CW Law to discuss your case.