Termination of parental rights is a legal term that refers to the state legally ending a parent-child relationship. The state of California rarely terminates parental rights and, if it does, it only does so with good reason.
You may wonder what constitutes good reason to involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights. Whether you are the petitioner for the termination or you are on the receiving end of the petition, it may help to understand the grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights.
Statutory grounds for the involuntary termination of parental rights
The Children’s Bureau explores the most common grounds for involuntarily terminating a parent’s rights in California. Those are as follows:
- Chronic or severe neglect or abuse
- Neglect or abuse of other children in the home
- Sexual abuse
- Long-term deficiency or mental illness of one or both parents
- Failure to maintain contact with or support the child
- Long-term drug- or alcohol-induced incapacity of one or both parents
- Previous loss of parental rights due to involuntary termination of parental rights
Though you may have a strong case as a petitioner if you can prove that one or several of these elements exist, simply establishing them is not enough to prevail.
Parents’ right to correct the conditions
The courts strive to do everything in their power to ensure children of divorce benefit by having both parents present in their lives. For this reason, they are likely to give the defendant parent ample opportunity to correct the conditions or behaviors that led to the state’s intervention. If, after the state intervenes, the parent fails to create a safe home environment for the child, only then will the courts terminate his or her rights.
Involuntary termination of parental rights is rare, but it does happen. If you feel it is necessary in your case, or if you are subject to a termination petition, it is crucial that you seek help with your upcoming battle.