Reisinger Booth & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.
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The termination of parental rights: What you should know

A parent's legal tie to his or her children is pretty strong. The courts don't jump to sever those ties without a good reason -- and it takes more than an ex-spouse or partner's ill will to get one.

If you're a man, how well-defined your parental rights are can depend on whether or not you were married to your children's mother when the children were born or acknowledged your paternity at some point.

If you weren't married to the mother and you aren't already listed on the children's birth certificates as their father, you would be wise to seek legal help quickly. A family lawyer can help you establish your legal paternity -- which protects your rights as a father. If you were married to the mother or have already been established as the children's legal father, you and the mother have equal rights as parents.

For both mothers and fathers, you can expect the court to support your parental rights (including custody or visitation) unless any of the following are true:

  • You're guilty of long-term or severe child neglect or abuse
  • You have a chronic history of alcohol or drug abuse that prevents you from being an effective parent
  • You have a chronic mental illness or disorder so severe that the court doesn't believe you can parent a child
  • You've abandoned the children by leaving them and refusing to provide for their food, shelter or clothing
  • You've sexually or violently abused the children
  • You've had your parental rights taken away before
  • You're facing a long prison sentence and your children have no other options (like placement with a grandparent or other relative) but foster care

It's important to understand your rights so that you don't allow your ex to frighten you or discourage you from seeking custody of your children.

Source: FindLaw, "Terminating Parental Rights," accessed Jan. 23, 2018

A parent's legal tie to his or her children is pretty strong. The courts don't jump to sever those ties without a good reason -- and it takes more than an ex-spouse or partner's ill will to get one.

If you're a man, how well-defined your parental rights are can depend on whether or not you were married to your children's mother when the children were born or acknowledged your paternity at some point.

If you weren't married to the mother and you aren't already listed on the children's birth certificates as their father, you would be wise to seek legal help quickly. A family lawyer can help you establish your legal paternity -- which protects your rights as a father. If you were married to the mother or have already been established as the children's legal father, you and the mother have equal rights as parents.

For both mothers and fathers, you can expect the court to support your parental rights (including custody or visitation) unless any of the following are true:

  • You're guilty of long-term or severe child neglect or abuse
  • You have a chronic history of alcohol or drug abuse that prevents you from being an effective parent
  • You have a chronic mental illness or disorder so severe that the court doesn't believe you can parent a child
  • You've abandoned the children by leaving them and refusing to provide for their food, shelter or clothing
  • You've sexually or violently abused the children
  • You've had your parental rights taken away before
  • You're facing a long prison sentence and your children have no other options (like placement with a grandparent or other relative) but foster care

It's important to understand your rights so that you don't allow your ex to frighten you or discourage you from seeking custody of your children.

Source: FindLaw, "Terminating Parental Rights," accessed Jan. 23, 2018

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Reisinger Booth & Associates, P.C., L.L.O.

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