Involuntary termination of parental rights

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.

Regardless of their marital status, Missouri parents both have the right to care for their child and in most cases make certain decisions regarding their child’s health care, education and religion. However, there are certain instances when a court may take away these rights.

One reason a court may terminate a person’s parental rights if there is evidence of abuse. This includes sexual or chronic abuse and neglect. If the parent abandons the child or suffers from a long-term mental illness that prevents the provision of proper care of the child, the court may remove the parent’s responsibilities. Additionally, these rights may also be terminated when a parent commits a violent crime against the child or another family member.

If the child ends up in foster care due to the parent being incarcerated or otherwise unable to provide care, the court may take away the parental rights. While state agencies must normally file a petition under the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act in order to seek such an action, there are a few exceptions. For example, if the child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months, the agency normally does not have to file the petition. Many states have enacted statutes that are based on the ASFA but which contain different guidelines in some cases.

This issue will sometimes arise in child custody disputes between divorced parents after a custody and visitation order has been issued by the court. When the problem involves repeated abuse, for example, the other parent might want to meet with a family law attorney in order to see if it would be advisable to either try and obtain an appropriate modification of the existing order or instead to seek an outright termination.

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