Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is taking away a parent’s rights and he or she is not legally a child’s parent anymore. When a parent’s rights are terminated, that parent looses all right to visit or even talk with the child. The parent can no longer have any input as far as how the child is raised and the child can be adopted without any input from the parent whose rights have been terminated.
Courts may take away parental rights as a way to protect a child or children who are in a bad situation with the parent. It is rare that a parent can start a process to take away the parental rights of another parent, but parental rights sometimes are terminated during a divorce or as part of stepparent adoption.
Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary termination means a person agrees to terminate his or her rights as a parent because the parent agrees it is the best thing for the child and there is a good reason to do it. This is often the case in a stepparent adoption. Parental rights termination can also be used if a child has been in foster care for a long time and there is no reasonable means to place the child back with his or her biological parent or parents. Parental rights cannot be terminated just because the parent does not want to pay or is unwilling to pay child support.
Involuntary termination is when a parent does not agree to give up his or her rights as a parent. In this instance, the court will decide the parent’s rights should be terminated. Courts do not often terminate a parent’s rights through involuntary termination. The court uses this type of termination where the child may be in danger if in the parent’s care or the parent cannot properly take care of the child. Some instances where parents rights have been involuntary terminated are when the parent abandons the child or children, if the child is neglected, if the parent is unfit to take care of the child, or if the child is in egregious harm.
Mom cannot simply have Dad’s parental rights terminated (nor can Dad have Mom’s parental rights terminated). Courts believe the child or children are better off with both parents in the child or children’s lives and would rather not terminate a parent’s rights unless there is a very good reason or extreme case of abuse. This is true even if both parents agree to the termination.
Normally, in the case of a remarriage, a parent’s rights may be terminated when the stepparent wants to adopt the child or children. If the other parent agrees to the stepparent adoption, usually one party will ask the Court asking to terminate the other parent’s rights so as to allow the new spouse to adopt the child or children. The parent whose rights are being terminated must consent to the termination of his or her rights; and do so in writing.
Terminating parent’s rights is not easy. There are only certain circumstances where termination may happen. If a parent does not want his or her rights terminated, those rights cannot simply be taken away.
Removing a parent’s rights also takes away their responsibility to support the child or children. If there is any chance a parent can afford support, the state is unwilling to terminate parental rights if it means the other spouse or the children need public benefits.