Terminating Your Parental Rights

Terminating your parental rights: what does it mean?

Being a parent is one of the most fulfilling, challenging, frustrating, and humbling elements in a person’s life. In a very short period of time you are given the responsibility and opportunity to teach and love and nurture a child and your actions, the way you approach this time, forever impacts not only your child but others in your family and often those around you as well.

While there is no formal swearing-in ceremony or official designation as a parent, you adopt certain parental rights in that role (such as education, religion, health, and living environment) and it is no small matter that you understand and implement those rights in a responsible manner, lest the rights be taken away.

Termination of parental rights—what does it mean?

Regardless if a court order removes parental rights or a parent willingly relinquishes them, termination of rights is an extremely serious and delicate issue. If a particular situation shows that a parent’s responsibilities are not being upheld in the best interest of the child, the court may terminate parental rights.

In some cases, a parent might voluntarily choose to give up their rights to see or have any contact with their child and their role in having input in how the child is raised. Whether court-ordered or voluntary, if you find yourself in this position you must fully understand what it involved and the consequences.

Terminating rights vs. custody

Termination of parental rights in Michigan is thankfully rare and only performed in extreme cases such as if a child would be in harm’s way if a particular parent’s rights continue, or in instances of adoption.

Keep in mind that terminating parental rights is not the same as physical custody. Sole legal or physical custody issues still include inherent rights while terminating those rights means a parent is no longer legally bound to the child and this order cannot be reversed. Termination of parental rights permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship.

Involuntary termination of rights

Every US state has internal statutes regarding termination of parental rights, which are determined by a variety of occurrences such as:

  • Severe child abuse or neglect
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the home
  • Sexual abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse or incapacity of a parent
  • Abandonment

Parental rights can also be taken away if a parent is convicted of certain felonies or a violent act is committed within the family.

Foster care as a last resort

In extremely adverse situations, termination of parental rights can leave a child with no responsible parents or guardians. In these cases the court may choose to place the child in foster care. However, many states have protections in place to avoid foster care unless absolutely necessary, such as if a relative can provide care.

Courts will generally side with decisions which are in the best interests of a child. A child’s health and safety are first and foremost, and other factors include a child’s age, cultural or attachment issues, and physical and emotional well-being.

More questions on parental rights? Contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or gucciardofamilylaw.com.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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