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Can parental rights be terminated involuntarily?

When a couple is married before having children, it is automatically assumed that the married couple is the children's parents and that they have the parental rights associated with those children. Parental rights means they have the right to make all the necessary decisions regarding them-about their education, religion, health care and other important issues. However, many St. Lucie residents may not be aware that these parental rights can be terminated, both voluntarily and involuntarily and parents can lose child custody.

Though the rules differ from state to state, there are certain factors similar in every state that can lead to an involuntary termination of parental rights. Chronic abuse or neglect and sexual abuse, abandonment, failure to maintain contact or support with the child and long-term mental illness of the parent(s) are just some of those factors. In addition to this, a conviction of committing certain felonies also leads to a termination of those rights, such as a crime of violence against the child or the other parent. Also, if a father never claims paternity, then they do not have parental rights.

Parents give up their parental rights voluntarily when they are giving their child up for adoption. Once parental rights have been terminated, there is no way to reinstate them unless the parent can show a change in circumstances before the child is permanently placed in foster care.

Claiming parental rights is an important responsibility, as it brings with it the duties and obligations of a parent and gives a child the security and safety they need to flourish. However, in certain situations, parents might find themselves unable to provide the best future for their children and therefore decide to end their rights so the child can be placed in a nurturing environment. Either way, an experienced family law attorney can help parents determine this important aspect of child custody.

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