Parents instinctively hang on to their children for as long as they can. But sometimes, a family’s dynamics change drastically, challenging the status quo’s stability. In the worst cases, parents don’t behave like nurturing parents should, resulting in the termination of parental rights and the child’s adoption placement.
Parental rights establish the legal relationship between a parent and a child. This bond includes every parent’s right to custody and visitation, the responsibility to provide financial support and the ability to make decisions on the child’s education, health, living conditions and other significant needs.
Legal grounds for termination of parental rights
Under New York law, a child’s biological parents may voluntarily surrender their parental rights if they deem it necessary to protect the child’s best interests. This voluntary surrender is irrevocable, so it’s not open for changes or cancellation. In some cases, it can be a conditional surrender, meaning the voluntary parent may keep some of their parental rights while their child is up for adoption. Conversely, an unconditional surrender means the voluntary parent cannot contact or communicate with their child.
Meanwhile, involuntary termination of parental rights has the following legal grounds:
- Mental illness and disability
- Perpetual neglect
- Severe and frequent abuse
- Abandonment for six months and more
In a custody battle, a parent cannot file a petition against their co-parent. Instead, a foster care or city agency may file it in a family law court. Then, a fact-finding hearing will hear both sides to determine a decision. If the judge decides that no legal grounds exist, they will dismiss the case. If any reason has been sufficiently proven, a dispositional hearing takes place, where the judge considers the child’s wishes if they’re over 14.
If you received a termination order, you have 30 days since the order to appeal the decision to a higher court. Lastly, if the termination of parental rights is final, a permanency hearing within 60 days discusses the child’s future.
Fighting for your parent-child relationship
The fear of being out of your child’s life must be dreadful. Unfortunately, permanent severance of your parent-child relationship will be equally traumatizing for your child, if not more. It will be reassuring to consult with a legal team for insights and guidance regarding strategic courses of action to protect your parental rights and your family’s best interests.