Termination of Parental Rights
The decision to terminate the parental rights of a parent to their child is not taken lightly. Severing a bond between a parent and a child is usually a last resort, done only when the best interests of the child warrant it. Sometimes it is a parent’s choice, but at other times a court determines that an individual is not fit to be a parent. If you are a parent who needs assistance in proceedings concerning terminating your own parental rights or those of another parent, the Nashville family law attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard can help you determine your options. We understand the complexities and emotions involved in a potential termination of parental rights, and we work closely with our clients to make sure that their interests and their children’s interests are served.Considerations in Deciding Whether to Terminate Parental Rights
The termination of parental rights legally ends a parent’s relationship with a child, who may then be adopted by a stepparent or another family. A birth father or mother may decide to voluntarily terminate their parental rights by filing a petition with the court. These petitions must state a basis for termination, as well as other details regarding the child’s age, paternity results, and medical and social history. If approved, the termination of parental rights absolves a parent or guardian of claims or obligations due toward the child, and the parent no longer has rights to visitation or contact with a child, nor does the parent have child support duties. Because of the serious and final nature of parental rights termination, courts only allow it in limited situations.
However, sometimes a court takes rights away from a parent involuntarily. The Tennessee Constitution protects a parent’s right to have a relationship with their child, so a party seeking termination must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of a child will be served by such an action. Scenarios in which a court may terminate a parent’s rights include:
- Evidence of physical abuse or neglect;
- A history of sexual abuse;
- Parental alienation or abandonment;
- A parent’s failure to provide support or maintain contact with a child for at least six months;
- A long-term history of drug or alcohol abuse; or
- A parent’s incarceration for specific violent crimes.
Facing the termination of your parental rights may be frightening, especially when a court is considering doing so against your wishes. Making sure that the best interests of a child are served is important in any family law proceeding, and the advice of a knowledgeable attorney can help make sure that this standard is met.Enlist a Dedicated Nashville Lawyer to Protect the Interests of Your Child
Whether you are looking to adopt, you believe that a child may be in need of a different familial situation, or you are facing the unwanted termination of your parental rights, the Nashville lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard are available to help you pursue the proper legal actions. Our firm represents residents of many cities in Williamson and Davidson Counties, including Franklin, Hermitage, Green Hills, Sylvan Park, and West Meade. If you need legal guidance regarding these proceedings, contact us online or call 615-800-7096 to find out more about how our child custody lawyers can assist you.