The Termination of Parental Rights in Florida
Outside of very serious circumstances, the state generally does not interfere with an individual’s right to parent their child. However, in certain circumstances, the courts may find it in the best interest of a child to terminate a parent’s rights. This includes the right to make decisions, spend time and determine who can access the child. The process involves the court’s consideration of a petition and both parents have the right to be heard on the matter. Whether you are a mother or father, the assistance of an attorney is important to ensure that your rights are protected during this emotional proceeding.
The termination of one parent’s rights does not necessarily affect the rights of the other parent. However, if the rights of both parents are terminated, the state generally takes custody of the child until a permanent placement is secured. The circumstances for termination of parental rights include:
- – Voluntary surrender – A parent can choose to voluntarily surrender all parental rights to a child, which commonly occurs in situations of general adoptions and stepparent adoptions. The parent must sign a written surrender document in the presence of a notary and two other witnesses. Once a surrender is executed, the signer can only cancel it with proof that is was signed under fraud or duress.
- – Threat to safety – Serious threats to the well-being of the child can lead to termination. This can include physical, mental or emotional abuse. A court can also find that egregious behavior, like neglect towards a child or a sibling, is adequate to terminate parental rights. Chemical dependence that renders the parent incapable of providing adequate care can also apply.
- – Incarceration – This ground applies when a parent is sentenced to incarceration for the time that constitutes the significant amount of a child’s life. Additionally, some violent and sexual crimes can also result in a termination proceeding. This may also apply to successive small sentences, if they collectively result in incarceration for a large portion of the child’s life.
- – Adjudicated dependency – When acts of abuse or neglect occur, the state may put a parenting plan in place to prevent further problems. If the parent(s) fails to adequately comply with the parenting plan, the courts can adjudicate the minor as dependent and institute a termination proceeding.
- – Abandonment – Parents who choose to have no contact with their children may face a termination proceeding. This may apply when the parent makes no effort to establish a relationship with the child and provides no financial support.
- – Termination of parental rights for siblings – In cases where a parent previously lost parental rights of another child or had a child removed from the home by a government agency, the state may pursue termination of parental rights.
Whether you are fighting the termination of your parental rights or seeking assistance to terminate the rights of a parent, contact the attorneys of Vanessa L. Prieto, LLC for a consultation about the merits of your case. Located in Fort Lauderdale, our office serves Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties. Contact the office today to schedule an appointment.