If you are reading this, hopefully, it is for informational purposes and not because termination proceedings have been started against you.  The termination of parental rights is a legal remedy available to the courts. However, it is usually a last resort or worst-case scenario for the courts. Read on to learn the basics of terminating parental rights.

What Does Terminating Parental Rights Mean?

When one has their parental rights terminated, the courts are legally declaring as if you never had a child. Typically, the courts’ most important consideration is the “best interest of the child”. In almost any case of parental termination, the courts will try and place the child with a relative. If a relative is not available, they try and find someone close to the family.

Grounds For Termination

Florida statute 39.806 outline which circumstances allows for parental rights to be terminated.  Under Florida law, there are twelve grounds for termination.  Those grounds are as follows:

  1. A parent(s) voluntarily surrenders a child through a written surrender.
  2. If the parent(s) abandons the child and legal authorities cannot locate them within 60 days.
  3. If the parent(s) exhibits concerning behavior to the child. This behavior must suggest that their presence is a concern for the health and safety of the child.
  4. When a parent(s) faces incarceration for an extended period. That period must equal the majority of the child’s adolescence. Additionally, this point is grounds if the court considers a parent a career or habitual criminal.
  5. If the child faces continual abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment by their parent(s).
  6. If the parent(s) engages in behavior that seriously threatens the safety and well-being of the child or knew of behavior towards the child that endangered them and could have stopped the endangerment, and purposely failed to do so.
  7. The parent(s) knowingly allowed the child to be physically or sexually abused.
  8. If the court terminated parental rights to a previous child.
  9. If the parent(s) have a history of substance abuse that would render them unfit to care for the child.
  10. At birth, the child’s blood test indicates the mother exposed them to alcohol or controlled substance. Additionally, this is an option if the child’s biological mother harmed another child’s health and safety in the same way.
  11. If a parent commits murder or attempted murder to the other parent or another child or committed an aggravated assault that resulted in the child having a serious bodily injury.
  12. If the parent(s) or the child have been removed on three or more occasions and the underlying reasons for the removal have not been resolved.

Contact a Lawyer

If you are in a situation where you find your parental rights being threatened with termination, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your legal rights.  The lawyers at Thompson Law are experts in matters of Family Law and will give you personalized legal advice for your case.