In Texas there are certain situations where the Texas Court may terminate parental rights so that a biological parent no longer has a “legal relationship” with their biological child. A termination of parental rights may be voluntary or involuntary.
Generally, the court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has:
- Voluntarily left the child alone or in possession of someone who is not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
- Voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of someone who is not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least 3 months;
- Voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least 6 months;
- Knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well being of the child;
- Engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
- Failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability during a period of one year, ending within 6 months of the date of the filing of the petition; or
- Abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence.
The above stated grounds are not an exhaustive list of reasons that a person’s parental rights may be terminated. To see the entire statute you can view §161.001 of the Texas Family Code .
In addition to the many different grounds for involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship listed out in the Texas Family Code, there is also a large amount of case law dealing with termination of parental rights in Texas. In order to terminate a parent-child relationship brought under §161.001 of the Texas Family Code, the petitioner must establish by “clear and convincing” evidence that 1. A violation has occurred under §161.001 and 2. That termination is in the best interest of the child. The petitioner must establish evidence of both elements. If the petitioner proves one element it does not relief the petitioner of his or her burden to establish the second element. A termination proceeding is strictly scrutinized and involuntary termination statutes are strictly construed in favor of the parent. There is a strong presumption in Texas that the best interest of a minor is usually served by keeping custody in the natural parents.
Involuntary termination of parental rights is a very complex legal issue. My discussion of the a small portion of the law is by no means comprehensive. If you are dealing with this issue you should contact an attorney, and if you have any questions live in the Austin, Texas area, call my office to schedule a consultation.
There are situations where a parent, for various reasons, may voluntarily relinquish his or her rights to a child. This voluntary termination of parental rights comes up most often with a step-parent adoption. A voluntary relinquishment of parental rights (voluntary termination), involves a situation where a parent of a minor child voluntarily agrees to terminate his or her parental rights. Generally voluntary relinquishment of parental rights (voluntary termination) is used to allow a person that has married the other biological parent of the child to adopt the child.
When this situation arises the termination of the parent-child relationship of the non-custodial biological parent is one of the first steps in the process. In a later post I will delve into the process of terminating the parent child relationship in regards to a step-parent adoption in more detail. If you have any questions regarding a step-parent adoption, or termination of parental rights, call my office to set up a consultation.
Attorney at Law
512-E 11th Street, Ste. 202
Austin, Texas 78701