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Family Court Direct Discusses Parental Rights in the United States

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Learn about parental rights in the United States and what our Family Court Direct lawyers can do to protect this vital right for future generations.

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What Are Parental Rights?

Parental rights arise from the legal and ethical relationship between parents and their children. They include the right to decide about the child’s upbringing and education, where the child will live, which school they will attend, and what activities they will participate in.

In addition to birth parents, the following groups of people can also have parental rights concerning a child:

  • Adoptive parents

  • Foster parents

  • Legal guardians

Parental Responsibility and Duties 

In addition to parental rights, parents have the legal responsibility to provide for their child’s basic needs.

To meet their child’s basic needs, parents must provide their child with food, clothing, shelter, access to health care, safety, and financial assistance. Parents also have the responsibility to meet the emotional and physical needs of their children and protect them against harm or abuse.

These legal obligations stop when a child reaches adulthood (18 years of age in most states).

You can run into legal trouble if you don’t establish parental rights while observing your legal responsibility as a parent.

What Is The List of Parental Rights?

The list of parental rights is a set of legal principles that define the obligations of parents in their relationship with their children.

The following are some examples of parental rights:

  • To be informed about the whereabouts of their child

  • To be consulted in matters concerning their child
  • To have access to their medical records
  • To be consulted regarding adoption proceedings
  • To consent to guardianship or custody arrangements
  • To decide on school enrollment and leave.

Termination of Parental Rights

Terminating parental rights can be a voluntary or an involuntary process.

Voluntary Surrender

Sometimes, one parent may voluntarily give up their legal custody. You may do this with the consent of the other parent and child, or it may be done without their consent. 

The court will decide whether this is in the child’s best interest based on all factors involved, including financial circumstances and the emotional stability of both parents.

You may also voluntarily surrender your parental rights if you are a birth parent. This is required if you have agreed to have another person adopt your child legally.

Additionally, with agreement from both parents, a child can terminate parental legal rights at any time and become an adult. 

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination cases are brought on by the State or people concerned about a child’s welfare. Examples of people who may initiate the termination of parental rights include:

  • Guardian of the child’s person or estate

  • Family members or relatives of the child

  • The child themself

  • The Department of Family and Protective Services.

Examples of grounds to terminate parental rights include:

  • Where a child has been abused, neglected, abandoned, or exploited

  • Where there has been sexual abuse

  • Where the parents are arguably unfit to meet their child’s needs 

  • Involvement in criminal activities

Fighting Termination of Parental Rights

The first step to take when facing termination of your parental rights is to contact an experienced family law attorney to ensure that you have all of your options open to fighting for your custody or visitation rights.

Once you have retained counsel and taken all the necessary actions as ordered by the court, you need to request an in-home child custody evaluation from the court. A current evaluation of your home can assist your case to regain custody.

If you are uncomfortable with going to court, you may want to try mediation first. Mediation is a process where both parties sit down with a neutral third party and try to agree on the custody or visitation schedule.

This can be a good option if both parties are willing to work together and if they can come to a parenting agreement to protect the children.

Terminating parental rights is a complex and emotionally charged situation that requires a skilled attorney. To maximize your chance at success, consult an attorney who understands the legal nuances of this process and how they apply to your circumstances.

Appealing a Termination of Parental Rights Case

When a parent loses physical custody of their child or has their other parental rights terminated, they may file an appeal with the family court to reinstate their parental rights.

Here are some tips to consider in your appeal case:

  • Before you file anything with the local court, ensure you have researched this matter thoroughly to find out what is required to file an appeal and if it is time sensitive.

  • Understand the relevant laws about regaining custody of your child if they have been taken away from you.

  • Find out if the laws allow the court to award you custody without trial.

  • If possible, connect with other parents who have been able to reinstate their previously terminated parental rights. These parents can give you some great tips on how they were able to win their cases.

  • Hire a good lawyer with extensive knowledge and experience in parental rights cases. This is one of the most important things that you can do if you want to have a chance at winning your case.

  • Appeals can take 12 months or more, so be prepared for a long, drawn-out court process – trust your lawyer that they will do everything they can to win your case. 

Struggling With Parental Rights and Termination?

It is common to feel like you are struggling with your termination of parental rights case. Every year, thousands of families go through this process, and if you are a father, fathers’ rights help is also available.

Remember, it is vital to act fast if you think your parental rights are in danger. Don’t wait until it’s too late!