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What are the legal grounds for termination of parental rights?

Most children have two loving parents who take proper care of them. However, occasionally, children have one or more parents that intentionally abuse them or neglect them.  In these difficult circumstances, concerned parents and other family members wonder what the legal basis would be for terminating the parental rights.  Texas law does not allow a Court to simply terminate parental rights based solely on a consideration of the best interest of the child.  Rather, the Court must determine, based on "clear and convicing evidence" that one of multiple legal grounds for termination exist.  Today's blog post will list some of the more common grounds for termination of parental rights against the parent's wishes.

Abandonment

The Court may terminate parental rights of a parent who has (1) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return; or (2) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing the the adequate support of the child and ramined away for a period of at least three months; (3) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support for the child and remained away for a period of at least six months; or (4) abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child's identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence.

Endangerment

The Court may terminate parental rights of a parent who has (1) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child; or (2) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child.

Failure to support

The Court may terminate the parental rights of a parent who has failed to support the child in accordance with the parent's ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of filing the petition.

Criminal activity

The Court may terminate the parental rights of a parent who has been convicted of or otherwise held criminally responsible for, death or serious injury to a child and constitutes murder, manslaughter, assault, indecency with a child, compelling prostitution, child pornography or sexual abuse.

If you or your family is facing difficult turmoil in the life of a child, you need legal assistance to guide you through the process. Christiansen Law Firm has extensive experience handling cases of termination of parental rights, both in seeking to terminate and in advocating for the parent's rights.  Christiansen Law Firm's experienced family law attorneys can evaluate your circumstances and provide expert advice and representation throughout the process.  Contact the offices of Christiansen Law Firm in Houston or San Antonio for additional information.

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