Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Reasons to End a Parent-Child Relationship

The termination of parental rights ends the legal parent-child relationship and can be either voluntary or involuntary. While it’s easy to assume that terminating parental rights should be forbidden, there are various reasons why a parent or family court judge would want to do such a thing. As such, our Hinesville family lawyers describe both voluntary and involuntary terminations of parental rights below. The information is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (866) 580-3089!

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

At first thought, it may seem unconscionable for a person to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. Why would a parent want to forgo their parent-child relationship? In many cases, the voluntary termination of parental rights is a positive thing. Let’s take a look at some reasons that a person may do this:

  • To allow the child to be placed for adoption through an adoption agency
  • To allow the child to be adopted by the other parent’s spouse, relative, or non-relative
  • One or both parents have:
    • Substance abuse issues
    • Chronic mental illnesses or deficiencies
    • Failed to maintain contact with the child

Adoption is a beautiful thing. To successfully accomplish it, however, one or more parents will have to voluntarily terminate their legal rights to their child. Unfortunately, other circumstances such as mental disorders or drug addiction may influence a parent to give up their parental rights, which could benefit their child in the long run, nonetheless.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

If the government must interfere with a parent-child relationship, then it is always for the child’s welfare and best interests. In Georgia, family court judges must evaluate several statutory grounds to determine whether the involuntary termination of parental rights is legal and necessary.

Those statutory grounds include:

  • The parent has subjected their child to aggravated circumstances
    • i.e. One parent murdered the child’s other parent
  • The parent has willfully failed to comply with a decree to support their child for 12 months or longer.
  • The parent abandoned their child
  • A child is dependent due to lack of proper parental care or control by their parent, reasonable efforts to remedy the circumstances have been unsuccessful or were not required, the cause of dependency is likely to continue or will not likely be remedied, and the continued dependency will cause or is likely to cause serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to such child

If any of the above statutory grounds for involuntary termination have been satisfied, the court will then decide whether involuntary termination is in a child's best interests. A judge will consider several factors, such as:

  • The child's sense of attachments, including their sense of security and familiarity
  • The child's wishes and long-term goals
  • The child's need for permanence, stability, and continuity of relationships with a parent, siblings, and other relatives

Other significant factors that help judges understand whether a child lacks parental care and control include, but are not limited to:

  • The parent is unable to adequately provide for their child due to a medically verified deficiency of their physical, mental, or emotional health
  • The parent is incapable of providing adequately for the physical, mental, emotional, or moral needs of his or her child due to the excessive use of or history of chronic unrehabilitated substance abuse
  • The parent has been convicted and incarcerated for an offense that negatively affected the quality of the parent-child relationship
  • The parent has engaged in physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive conduct toward their child
  • The parent inflicted physical, mental, or emotional neglect on their child
  • Through neglect or abuse, the parent caused serious bodily injury or death of a sibling 

Discuss Your Situation with Our Adoption Attorneys

We understand that deciding whether or not to terminate your parental rights for adoption purposes can be an emotional and confusing process. You likely have countless questions concerning your options as well as the meaning and impacts of your decisions. Don’t worry, as our adoption lawyers in Hinesville are here to help provide the clarity you deserve.

However, if you are facing the potential involuntary termination of your parental rights, we can represent you at all stages of the process. While the stakes are high, you can trust that our attorneys will go the extra mile to safeguard your rights and champion the best interest of you and your child.

Learn more by contacting us at (866) 580-3089!