Parental rights are those rights and responsibilities that parents have in relation to their children, and in the eyes of the law, these rights are nearly inviolate. The State of Georgia is no exception, and Georgia courts base all their decisions related to child custody on the best interests of the children involved. Further, maintaining a relationship with both parents is generally favored (unless there are considerable extenuating circumstances). If you have questions related to the termination of parental rights, seek the professional legal counsel of an experienced Georgia parental rights attorney today.
What Does the Termination of Parental Rights Entail?
When a parent loses his or her parental rights, it means that he or she loses all rights in relation to the child. This includes all of the following:
- The right to visit
- The right to contact
- The right to take custody of
- The right to make decisions on behalf of
When a parent’s rights are terminated, it opens the door for someone else to adopt the child in question (a stepparent, for example).
Reasons for the Termination of Parental Rights
The court will only consider the termination of parental rights if at least one of the following circumstances applies:
- The parent whose rights are being terminated consents in writing to the termination or voluntarily surrenders the child for adoption
- The parent purposefully failed to fulfill his or her court-ordered child support obligations for a full year.
- The parent abandoned the child in question.
- The parent is found guilty of murdering the child's other parent.
Terminating Parental Rights Due to Parental Misconduct or Inability
Outside of the reasons above, the court will attempt to identify – via clear and convincing evidence – whether parental misconduct or inability plays a role in the parent/child relationship. The four statutory elements of parental misconduct or inability must all be present, and they include:
- The child is dependent in some manner.
- The parent failed to provide appropriate parental care or control in some capacity, and this failure caused the child’s deprivation.
- The cause of the child’s deprivation is not likely to be remedied and will probably continue.
- Allowing the deprivation to continue is likely to cause the child to suffer serious physical, emotional, mental, or moral harm.
The court will also look at the parent’s relationship with the child (if he or she is a noncustodial parent) in the prior year to determine if he or she failed to develop a significant parental relationship with the child, failed to provide for the child in the manner required by the law, and/or failed to comply with a reunification plan that was set in place. If parental misconduct or inability is identified, the court will then consider whether terminating parental rights is in the best interests of the child in this situation.
An Experienced Forsyth County Parental Rights Attorney Can Help
If you are facing a family law concern, the compassionate and experienced family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland – serving both Forsyth County and Cumming – have the fortitude, skill, and resources to help. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 770-887-1209 today.