Von Dohlen Law Firm

Every child deserves committed, loving parents. But sometimes one or both parents cannot or will not provide a nurturing environment for the child. Some parents actually create dangerous or neglectful environments for kids. When that happens, the child’s interests might be best served by terminating parental rights. When a parent’s rights are terminated, the legal relationship with the child ends. A terminated parent is a legal “stranger” to the child and the former parent would have no rights to possession or visitation with the child. Typically, the former parent’s ongoing duty to support the child ends (typically, past-due obligations remain.) Terminating parental rights requires court involvement and a common error occurs when parents try to terminate rights between themselves with contractual agreements not involving the courts. Such agreements have no legal weight because only courts have the authority to decide on this issue. Termination is only applicable in very fact-specific situations and termination is a gravely serious matter – it’s permanent and life-changing.

Agreed or Voluntary Termination

Voluntary termination of parental rights takes place when a parent agrees to give up his or her legal rights to the child. The terminating parent confirms the intention by signing an Affidavit of Relinquishment with details including:

The parent then appears in court to confirm the decision to terminate the parent-child relationship.

Common reasons for voluntary termination include:

Voluntary termination actions in Texas are relatively straightforward but the matter must be resolved through the court system.

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination occurs when the parent to be terminated opposes the action and insists on maintaining legal rights to the child. These actions can arise following neglect or abusive actions towards the child. Under the Texas Family Code, the court may terminate the parent-child relationship if clear and convincing evidence suggests that the parent has committed harmful actions such as:

The party initiating an involuntary termination of parental rights must present clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s conduct meets statutory grounds for termination. It is imperative to demonstrate that the action is in the best interest of the child.

Even when handled voluntarily, termination of parental rights can be stressful for all parties involved. Precise legal standards must be followed, making it advisable that you retain the services of an experienced Texas family law attorney. For assistance with your sensitive situation, contact Attorney Robert Von Dohlen at (713) 443-6730. Robert understands that in certain situations, termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child and Robert can be your guide to help bring about that outcome.

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