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Terminating Parental Rights in Texas: FAQ Answers [2022]

From time to time, clients ask us about terminating parental rights in Texas. Usually, it’s because the other parent is not involved in the child’s life or is exhibiting dangerous or abusive behavior.

The first thing we tell clients is that terminating parental rights in Texas is not an easy process. It is an expensive process to attempt and it is usually not successful.

Courts view termination of parental rights as a drastic step and are often hesitant to grant such a request because it means the child will only have one parent providing support for the rest of his or her life.

If your primary goal is to stop paying child support, understand the odds of terminating parental rights are low.

In this article, we will discuss the grounds for terminating parental rights in Texas and answer pressing questions about the process, which requires filing a lawsuit.

What is the termination of parental rights in Texas?

The termination of parental rights in Texas is a process that severs the legal relationship between a parent and their child. This means that the parent no longer has any legal rights or responsibilities to the child, including the right to visit or receive any information about the child. It also terminates child support obligations.
Parental rights are terminated in one of two ways:

  •  Voluntarily, with the consent of the parent who agrees to relinquish their rights.
  •  Involuntarily, by filing a termination lawsuit and convincing a family law court that the other parent’s rights should be terminated.

It’s important to note that termination of parental rights is permanent. Once severed, parental rights cannot be restored. So it’s crucial to make sure that this is the right decision before moving forward.

What are the grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights in Texas?

There are a number grounds for terminating parental rights in Texas, which are enumerated in Section 161.001 of the Texas Family Code. The most common grounds are:

  •  The parent abandoned the child and expressed no intent to return;
  •  The parent endangered the child;
  •  The parent abused or neglected the child or another child;
  •  The parent failed to support the child;
  •  The parent has been convicted of a felony involving sex or violence against a child;
  •  The parent kept the child out of school or away from home.

How does the court decide if a parent’s rights should be involuntarily terminated?

When a termination lawsuit is filed, the court must hold a hearing to decide if the parent’s rights should be terminated. The burden of proof is on the person filing the lawsuit to prove that one or more of the grounds for termination listed above applies.

If the court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that at least one of the grounds for termination exists AND that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the child’s best interest then it will order the parent’s rights to be terminated.

Can a parent voluntarily give up their rights in Texas?

Yes, a parent can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights in Texas. This is typically done by signing an affidavit of “voluntary relinquishment” of parental rights, which is then filed with the court. If the judge agrees that it is in the “best interest of the child,” to terminate that parent’s rights, they can order it.

Once the relinquishment is approved by the court, it is final and cannot be undone. This means the person who signed over their rights is no longer considered the parent of the child. In fact, their name will be removed from the child’s birth certificate.

Can anyone other than a parent move to terminate a parent’s rights?

Yes, the following people and agencies may be able to move to terminate a parent’s rights in Texas:
  •  The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS);
  •  A grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another relative of the child;
  •  The legal guardian of the child;
  •  A foster parent;
  •  A prospective adoptive parent;
  •  The person who has been awarded custody of the child.

Again, terminating parental rights in Texas is not an easy process. To find out if you meet the specific legal requirements to move for parental rights termination, contact a qualified attorney.

Trying to terminate parental rights is an expensive process with a low likelihood of success

If you’re in Tarrant County and want to press forward with attempting to terminate parental rights, despite the odds and the expense, give us a call.

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