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When Can a Father’s Rights Be Terminated?

Family law cases involving the termination of parental rights are extremely tough. Losing your rights as a father can be the most difficult thing to happen in your life. The courts are reluctant to relinquish parental rights without a valid reason, and they need clear and convincing evidence to take away a father’s rights involuntarily.

However, if there has been child abuse reported to Child Protective Services (CPS), if you have been imprisoned for over two years, or have a mental illness that leaves you unable to care for your child’s needs, you risk having your parental rights terminated. Voluntary relinquishment of your rights is also possible in some situations, like with adoption or if you discover you are not the biological father.

Father’s Rights Lawyers at Skillern Firm

If you are at risk of losing your parental rights as a father, or if you are seeking voluntary termination of your parental rights, contact an experienced family law attorney. The family attorneys at Skillern Firm have significant experience with cases involving the termination of parental rights. We understand how challenging and emotional these cases are, which is why we want to do everything we can to help.

Our Texas family law firm cares about protecting your rights and the best interests of your children, and we want to get you the best outcome possible. With three of our family attorneys being Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, you can count on us to provide top-quality legal service.

Call us today at 936-213-8479 to arrange a consultation with an experienced father’s rights attorney.

Parental Rights in Texas

Parent’s rights to a child are protected under the Texas Family Code. As a legal parent, you have the right to custody of your child, visitation, to provide for your child’s financial needs, and the right to make important decisions in your child’s life, including their upbringing, religion, schooling, and medical care.

The right to custody of a child includes the right to either sole or joint custody. If a father has a joint-custody arrangement, they have visitation rights, which means the right to see and spend time with their children. Texas Judges prefer to set up joint-custody arrangements when the parents of a child are not together, provided it is in the best interests of the child.

The child lives with the custodial parent or the primary caregiver and spends time with the other parent, which is usually on the first, third, and fifth weekends of the month. However, if you live out of state or have unique arrangements, you can try to arrange a visitation schedule that works for you and the other parent and is in the child’s best interest.

Parents also have inheritance rights to their children, meaning their children can benefit from their estate if they die. As a parent, your child can inherit your property and assets upon your death even if you do not have a Last Will and Testament.

When Can a Father’s Rights Be Terminated?

Termination of parental rights is when a legal court order is signed to end the parent-child relationship, thus ending any rights the parent has to a child, such as a requirement to pay child support, have custody of the child, and make important decisions in the child’s life.

Parental rights termination can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary termination is when a parent recognizes they cannot properly care for the child and surrenders their rights to the child. Voluntary termination in Texas can only happen when the parent agrees to it and when it is in the child’s best interest. A common example of voluntary termination is the adoption process.

However, there must be a court hearing or an order signed by a Judge before terminating someone’s parental rights. It is not enough to simply voluntarily terminate parental rights to avoid paying child support or other responsibilities to your child. The final decision lies with a family court Judge in Texas. The Judge will consider the parent-child relationship, the child’s age, and the reasons for the termination of parental rights.

Involuntary Termination

Involuntary termination of parental rights is when the parental rights are terminated without the parent’s consent. In these situations, a court may decide based on clear and convincing evidence that terminating a parent’s parental rights is in the best interests of the child. Some examples of involuntary termination of parental rights in Texas include:

Abandonment

If the father has abandoned the child with the mother, a family member, or another person without providing support to the child for at least six months, their parental rights may be terminated. Involuntary termination can also take place if they abandoned the child and failed to provide support for just three months if they expressed an intent not to return.

Abuse or Neglect

A court may terminate parental rights if there is evidence of abuse or neglect, such as knowingly putting the child in situations that endanger their physical or emotional well-being, physical or sexual abuse, or otherwise endangering the child.

Failure to Support the Child

Failing to support a child for at least one year can lead to involuntary termination of parental rights to a child.

Criminal Conduct

If the father has been convicted of one of the crimes listed under Texas Family Code Sec. 161.001. (2)(b)(1)(L), such as murder, abandoning a child, continued sexual abuse of a young child, sexual assault, or indecency with a child, they may have their parental rights terminated.

The court may also relinquish parental rights if the father engaged in criminal conduct that resulted in a conviction and imprisonment for at least two years.

Substance Abuse

A father may lose their parental rights involuntarily if they used a controlled substance in a way that endangers their child and failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse program, or continued to use drugs after completing their program.

Mental Illness

If the father has a mental or emotional illness that leaves them unable to provide for the physical, emotional, and mental needs of the child, they may have their parental rights involuntarily terminated.

Can My Parental Rights be Terminated if Another Man is the Father?

The Texas Family Code provides that a man can file for termination of parental rights if they signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity or became the presumed father without getting genetic testing, and later discovered that they are not the child’s father, even if their name is on the child’s birth certificate.

The man making the petition to terminate their parental rights must prove that they are not the child’s genetic father and that they failed to contest their parentage because of a mistaken belief that they were the parent. They must also show that they believed they were the parent because of misrepresentations made to them, which may have been from the child’s mother or the child’s guardian.

However, a father cannot terminate their parental rights in these circumstances if they are the adoptive father of the child or the child was conceived through assisted reproduction and the man consented to this process. The court will also consider what is in the child’s best interests when deciding whether to terminate parental rights.

How To Terminate Parental Rights in Texas

Parental rights can only be terminated in Texas through a court order. There are several steps involved in the termination process and it can be quite complex. It is best to enlist the services of an experienced family law attorney to help you with this process, as any mistake could be harmful to you and your child.

The steps involved in the termination process include:

  1. File a petition to terminate parental rights with the court.
  2. Serve notice to the other parent. The parent reserves the right to contest the petition and argue against evidence brought against them.
  3. Attend a court hearing where the Judge will examine all the evidence and consider what is in the best interests of the child.
  4. Get a court order terminating parental rights.

If you have been served notice to have your father’s rights terminated, contact an experienced attorney immediately. The onus is on the petitioner to provide clear and convincing evidence that your parental rights should be relinquished. If they cannot prove this, you may retain your rights to your child. However, you will need the help of a skilled attorney.

Contact Skillern Firm Today!

Relinquishing your father’s rights is extremely challenging and may be the most difficult thing you do in your life. For this reason, it is vital that you have an experienced attorney by your side who can offer strong legal advice and guide you smoothly through the process.

If you need to learn more about the termination of parental rights in Texas, contact Skillern Firm today. Our family law firm has been helping fathers with their parental rights in Texas for over 12 years. Our team of attorneys understand the complexities of family law cases and we understand the unique process involved in terminating parental rights.

A father’s rights lawyer from our firm can investigate your case, advise you on your best options, and ensure that you and your children’s interests are protected.

Call our law firm today to arrange a consultation at 936-213-8479.