Parents Rights in Texas
There are many facets of parenting. Two of these are the rights that parents hold regarding the ability to see and raise their children and the responsibilities they have for supporting their children and their children’s actions. Not every family is the same, so determining these rights and responsibilities can be difficult. However, there are legal processes for both the creation and termination of parental privileges and obligations. Welcome to the Parenting and the Law section of FindLaw’s Family Law Center, providing information on legal issues related to parenting.« Show Less
In this section, you’ll find information on parents’ liability for the acts of their children, the termination of parental rights, and more. Whether you need to learn the basics about parental liability, need to know how parents’ rights can be formally ended, need resources to help children deal with issues such as divorce or adoption, or just want to know the basics on child-related tax deductions, use the resources below to learn more.
The legal concept of parental rights generally refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding a child’s education, healthcare, and religion, among other things. If parents are separated or divorce, these rights can extend to custody and visitation. While these rights can be automatic in certain family structures, such as with married parents at the birth of the child, it may be necessary for a parent to petition a court for the rights, as in cases of disputed paternity.
Parental rights can also be terminated, either explicitly or implicitly. A father who never claims paternity, or against whom paternity is never established, has no parental rights. A father can also voluntarily relinquish parental rights. A court can also terminate rights for either parent, against his or her wishes, in cases of abuse, neglect, and abandonment, or if a parent has a long-term mental illness, alcohol or drug impairment, or incarceration period.
Termination of Parental Rights
Each state and the District of Columbia have laws stating specific grounds for the termination of parental rights, a process that ends the parent-child relationship from a legal standpoint. A termination of parental rights petition is brought to permanently end the legal rights of the natural parents of a child, thereby “freeing” the child for adoption.While states differ slightly on the exact grounds for termination, most statutes hinge on the consideration of a child’s best interests. For example, parents who are unable to provide a safe home, or who have been convicted of serious acts of child abuse, may have their parental rights terminated. The following articles and resources cover the process of terminating parental rights, reinstatement of parental rights after termination, and related matters.« Show Less
Best Interests of the Child
Courts make a variety of decisions that affect children, including placement and custody determinations, safety and permanency planning, and proceedings for termination of parental rights. Whenever a court makes such a determination, it must weigh whether its decision will be in the “best interests” of the child. Most states consider a child’s best interests in termination proceedings. In some states, statutes use general language mandating that the child’s health and safety be paramount in all proceedings, while other states’ legislation lists specific factors that must be considered, such as the child’s age; the physical, mental, emotional and moral well-being; cultural and attachment issues; and the child’s reasonable preferences.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights
Typically, parents voluntarily terminate their rights when they wish to give the child up for adoption. Termination of parental rights may be voluntary or involuntary. When it comes to voluntary termination of parental rights, the process is quite difficult because children are generally seen to have a right to a parental relationship and, particularly, a right to receive financial support and care from both parents. Two common situations that often lead to requests to terminate parental rights include a parent who wishes to terminate his/her child support or financial obligation for the child; or a parent who desires to have the other parent completely out of their life.
Reinstatement of Parental Rights
When a court orders the termination of parental rights, the legal relationship between a parent and child ceases to exist. It is very rare and only occurs in especially serious cases, such as those involving child abuse or severe child neglect. And even though a parent may petition the court to voluntarily give up his or her parental rights, the main consideration is always the child’s best interests. Laws allowing reinstatement were drafted generally in response to older children who were aging out of foster care and wanted to re-establish family ties. Usually, reinstatement is available only on the condition that the child has not been permanently placed with a foster home within a given period of time.
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