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Caring and Professional Family Law Services

Seek legal help when initiating or facing termination of parental rights

Last time, we spoke about a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives which would allow courts to terminate the parental rights of parents who commit rape and certain other sexual offenses, provided those offenses can be proven by clear and convincing evidence. This legal standard is between that of preponderance, which is the ordinary civil standard, and the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

It remains to be seen whether the bill will be adopted in the Senate, and we’ll certainly keep our readers updated. When it comes to cases involving the potential termination of parental rights, each situation is different. In some cases, allegations may arise in the context of a highly contentious breakup and there may not be much evidence to back them up. In other cases, serious abuse may be occurring. Whatever the case may be, it is important to sort it out in court to ensure any children impacted by the situation receive protection. 

Under current state law, a court may terminate parental rights under a variety of circumstances, including cases where it is found by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The child has been deserted;
  • The child, or a sibling, has been subjected to physical injury or abuse or sexual abuse;
  • There is a reasonable likelihood that a child will be harmed if he or she is allowed to return home with a parent;
  • A parent failed to provide proper care or custody for the child and there is no reasonable expectation that the parent will do so in the future;
  • A parent has had rights to a child’s sibling or siblings terminated based on serious or chronic neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse, and attempts to rehabilitate the parent have been unsuccessful.

It is important, of course, for both parents who are seeking termination of parental rights and parents who face having their parental rights terminated, to have a strong advocate throughout the legal process. This is true especially in cases where false allegations arise and when a child has been harmed and/or faces a legitimate risk of harm.

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Seek legal help when initiating or facing termination of parental rights | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC