When you’re a single parent, and doing it all by yourself, the issue of terminating parental rights of the absent parent may be an option. Here are 6 tips that can help you consider whether this is something you want to pursue.
- The other parent wants to terminate: Just because the other parent wants to terminate his or her rights, does not mean that you get to just file a piece of paper with the court and the rights are terminated. Consent of the other party is absolutely not enough to terminate if you are a single parent. The court still has to find that it is in the best interests of the child, and without other reasons why the court should terminate, consent will not be enough. Do not try to file for a termination unless there are other reasons. The termination will be denied.
- There must be other reasons: As discussed above, consent alone is not enough. There must be other reasons why the court should consider terminating parental rights. This could include abandonment by the parent who has not been involved for six or more months without reason or justification. Another reason could be criminal history. If the other parent was a violent criminal, the court will be more likely to terminate. Additionally, if the other parent has a drug or alcohol problem that does not look like it is improving, this may be a basis for termination. However, it is much better to have a combination of these factors if you want the court to terminate.
- Being worried about who will take care of your child: Many parents who are going through termination proceedings are doing so because they want to appoint a person to take care of their child if something happens to him or her. The parent does not want the child to return to the care of a parent who has been uninvolved or has other issues and cannot adequately care for the child. Unfortunately, the court says this is not a sufficient reason to terminate a parent’s rights. Again, there must be a combination of factors. This alone will not result in a successful termination.
- Start dating: The courts are exceptionally more likely to grant a termination if there is another person involved. This means, if you are engaged or married, the court is more likely to grant a termination. The court wants to ensure that there will eventually be two parents involved. The court does not feel that it is in the best interests of a child to be raised by one parent. If you show the court that there is a potential spouse or parent in the future, the court will be more likely to terminate, especially, if the other factors above are in place.
- Have your spouse adopt: If you are married, your spouse wants to adopt your child, and the other parent consents to the termination, it is almost a guarantee that the termination will go through without all of the other factors. A stepparent adoption is by far the easiest way to terminate the other parent’s rights. That other parent does not have to meet a number of factors, but instead can simply consent to the adoption and termination.
- Don’t get frustrated: Terminations are very stressful, and it is more common that terminations are not granted. Do not feel frustrated if the first time it doesn’t happen. You can always go back again and try once you meet more of the requirements.