Termination of Parental Rights


There are many reasons why parental rights might be terminated.  Termination of parental rights can be voluntary as well as involuntary.  Some parents recognize their inability to properly care for their child and seek to voluntarily terminate their rights.  This could allow someone else who is better suited to take on the responsibility legally.

In some cases, however, where a parent has shown repeated failure to care of the physical or emotional health of their child, a court may be asked to terminate that person’s parental rights.   Terminating parental rights severs a parent’s legal ties, preventing that parent from making any further decisions for the child.

Factors to Consider

Termination of parental rights is a binding and usually permanent decision.  Therefore, courts generally require substantial evidence before making such a ruling.  In order to begin these proceedings, the child’s other parent or guardian is usually required to show that termination is in the child’s best interest and that termination is the only remaining option.

Most states set out specific factors that the court should consider.  The most common statutory grounds for determining that a parent is unfit include:

  • Severe or chronic abuse or neglect
  • Sexual abuse
  • Abuse or neglect of other children in the household
  • Abandonment of the child
  • Long-term mental illness or deficiency of the parent(s)
  • Long-term alcohol- or drug-induced incapacity of the parent(s)
  • Failure to support or maintain contact with the child
  • Involuntary termination of the rights of the parent to another child

Alabama has similar grounds listed in Ala. Code § 12-15-319.  Consulting an Alabama Family Law Attorney who knows the specific factors considered by the court will strengthen your case.  As a parent or guardian, your first duty is always to protect the child you are responsible for. Terminating an unfit parent’s rights may be the only way to do that.

Alternatives to termination of parental rights.

Depending on your specific situation, there may be other options to consider before proceeding to terminating rights. Some other options include limited visitation, supervised visitation, awarding full legal custody to the fit parent or guardian. Call our office at (205) 988-5570 if you have further questions. 

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