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Terminating Parental Rights in Texas

This post provides a basic overview of the termination of parental rights. When a parent voluntarily does this, it is commonly referred to as “relinquishment.” However, a court can also order a parent’s rights to be terminated involuntarily. This must be accomplished before a child can be adopted, even if they are being adopted by a stepparent.

The involuntary termination of parental rights is covered under Section 161.001 of the Family Code. Under Sec. 161.001, some of the reasons why a court may terminate a person’s parental rights include:

  • The parent voluntarily left the child in another’s care and expressed he or she does not intend to return.
  • The parent voluntarily left the child in the care of another (not the child’s other parent) for at least three months, not expressing his or her intention to return, and when doing so, did not provide financial support for the child.
  • The parent voluntarily left the child with someone else for at least six months and did not provide adequate support for the child.
  • The parent knowingly placed the child in a dangerous environment that could harm the child’s physical or emotional well-being.
  • The parent abandoned the child with no form of identification.
  • A biological father, knowing that the mother was pregnant, abandoned her during the pregnancy and through the birth and did not provide adequate support for the child after the birth.

The above is a list of some, but not all, of the reasons why a court may order the termination of parental rights.

Relinquishment of Parental Rights

The termination of parental rights is very serious, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. Once your parental rights have been terminated or “relinquished,” you do not have the right to see your child, to support your child, or even contact him or her.

It is not uncommon for a parent to desire to relinquish their own parental rights. This often happens when the parent is not in the child’s life and does not want to pay child support. Usually, the only way a judge will allow a parent’s rights to be relinquished is when someone else is waiting to adopt the child, such as a stepparent.