Terminating Parental Rights
Our Woodstock and Alpharetta Family Lawyers Advise Clients on Their Parental Rights and Legal Options for Revoking Those Rights
The right of a parent to raise a child is one of the most fundamental rights we possess. But with these rights come responsibilities. While Georgia courts are very careful to protect parental rights, they also will not hesitate to protect a child when a parent fails to meet those responsibilities to the extent that they put the child’s health, safety, or life at risk. Our Woodstock and Alpharetta family lawyers are well aware of the fact that a request to terminate a person’s parental rights is one of the most sensitive matters handled by the state’s Juvenile Court judges. Georgia law sets forth very strict rules about how such a request must be made, who has the right to make it, and the kind of acts or circumstances that need to be proven before a parent loses his rights as to his or her child.
What Does It Mean to Terminate a Parent’s Rights in Georgia?
The termination of a parent’s rights involves far more than losing custody or visitation rights. Once a parent’s rights are taken away, he or she is essentially no longer the child’s parent in the eyes of the law. That means the now-former parent has no rights to see or have a relationship with the child, will not be able to inherit anything from the child (and vice versa), and the child may be adopted without any notice or consent required.
Under What Circumstances Will a Court Terminate a Parent’s Rights?
When considering a properly-filed petition for termination of parental rights, a judge will go through a two-part analysis. The first question that the judge must answer is whether there is “clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability.”
As set forth in O.C.G.A. 15-11-94, such misconduct and inability include:
- “Wantonly and willfully” failing to pay child support for 12 months or longer;
- Abandoning the child or leaving the child under circumstances that the identity of the parent is unknown and cannot be ascertained despite diligent searching, and the parent has not come forward to claim the child within three months following the finding of the child; and
- Failing to provide parental care or control such that it results in the child being deprived, the deprivation is likely to continue, and it will cause or is likely to cause serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to the child. “Deprived” means that the child is found to be without adequate nourishment, education and/or parental care.
A parent can also voluntarily agree to the termination of his or her rights by providing written consent to the court.
If a judge finds clear and convincing evidence of such parental misconduct or inability, the judge then considers whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child after taking into account the physical, mental, emotional, and moral condition and needs of the child, including the need for a secure and stable home.
Call a Woodstock Alpharetta Family Attorney at North Metro Litigators Today If You Have Questions Regarding the Termination of Your Parental Rights
If you are concerned about the well-being of a child or your parental rights are at risk, please call an Alpharetta family lawyer at North Metro Litigators today. We provide effective and compassionate family law representation at a reasonable cost. Call us today at 770-517-0045 or contact us to arrange for your free initial consultation. We have offices in Alpharetta and Woodstock.