How To Win a Termination of Parental Rights Case?

How To Win a Termination of Parental Rights Case

TPR cases are very common in the US and are a complicated legal procedure in this era. This profoundly affects the lives of the children and the parents involved, and the law is bound to take drastic measures.    

What can lead the court to take such a drastic measure? This is a common phenomenon under Texan law. It is a very daunting procedure that emotionally affects both parties.    

Before you indulge in a TPR case, it is crucial to understand the gravity of the situation. However, amidst these complex legal proceedings, you might also find a glimmer of hope. Suppose you equip yourself thoroughly with the knowledge and nitty-grittiest of family law. Know your rights in the courtroom and how to win such a complex case quickly.    

This article will demystify all the aspects of TPR and how you can win such a complicated procedure hassle-free. Before we delve into its intricate details, knowing the basics and what leads to filing a TPR is crucial.    

What is TPR?

What is TPR

In layman’s terms, TPR or Termination of Parental Rights means that the rights of a person as a parent are being taken away. Legally, the person is no longer the child’s parent, and they don’t have to raise the child, pay child support, or visit the child.    

The TPR is also called the “Civil death penalty” and is taken seriously by the judges. Normally, the judges do not terminate parental rights without a valid reason. TPR is the final decree the judge gives if the state makes a good case if a child is not nurtured properly.    

TPR laws are, however, different in different states of the United States. The basic framework, however, is the same, but the timeframe varies between states.    

The proceedings of TPR are consequently long and tedious. It undergoes a thorough process of presenting and proving evidence and emotionally affects both parents and the child.    

TPR is firmly divided into two categories: Voluntary and Involuntary TPR. In voluntary TPR, the parents voluntarily give up the children’s rights according to the statutory requirements given in the DCPS of the respective state.    

On the other hand, involuntary TPR by the DCPS of a state determines the child’s best interest and proceeds toward a competent jurisdiction order in TPR.    

Legal Procedures and Requirements for TPR

 There are various grounds on which parental rights are relinquished or terminated permanently. They are:    

  • The parent has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness and is not a qualified individual to raise a child.    
  • The parent gets diagnosed with severe physical incapacitation by a qualified medical professional, prohibiting taking care of the child without proper documentation of the diagnosis.    
  • The parents had alcohol use disorder or drug addiction and didn’t or failed to complete treatment.    
  • The parent is unwilling to provide the child’s basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.    
  • Parents couldn’t exercise reasonable visitation or communication with the child.    
  • The parent is either abusive or neglectful towards the child, which has caused substantial erosion of their overall relationship. This has led to the child’s extremely deeply seated antipathy towards their parents.    
  • The parent has either committed rape, sexual battery, exploitation, molestation, or human trafficking with the child. A parent can lose parental rights if they have committed, aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited murder or voluntary manslaughter of the other parent.    
  • A felony assault resulted in bodily injuries to the child or either of the parents due to physical abuse.    

Rights and Responsibilities of the Parents

Rights and Responsibilities of the Parents

As mentioned above, there are certain grounds on which the legal rights and responsibilities of the parents can be diminished and can cause TPR. According to the below-mentioned standard rights and duties, these are the rules that the parents must abide by so that they do not face termination in the long run.    

  • Physical Custody: Parents have the right to physical custody of their child, where they can make day-to-day decisions regarding the child’s welfare, like their residence or whether they’re regularly attending school.    
  • Legal Custody: The parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of their child, including but not limited to medical, education, and religious upbringing.     
  • Financial Support: The parent should take financial responsibility for the child and include support payments catering to their welfare.    
  • Protection and Care: The parents must provide the child with basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter.    

Importance of the Child’s Best Interest

In most TPR cases, the court primarily considers the child’s welfare above all. Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child discusses the “Child’s Best Interest.” In the Hague Conference of 1902, the concept of a child’s best interest came into enforcement, and in 1924, the Geneva Declaration highlighted the idea of adults compelled to protect children. Here are some important facts to remember before you proceed to court to argue your TPR case.    

  • Even though the Child’s Best Interest doesn’t adhere to a precise definition, this act ensures the child’s well-being so that they can grow up in an environment favorable for their mental and physical health.    
  • Since the Child’s Best Interest is a collected work, Article 3 of the Declaration critically mentions the imperative principles and the applications of the rights of the convention.    
  • Article 2 of the Declaration emphasizes the right to non-discrimination, which considers the child’s opinion in adherence with the provisions in Article 12.    
  • Article 6 of the Declaration talks about the child’s survival and growth to determine the child’s welfare, which shows that the court has considered the child’s best interest in mind.    
  • The Child’s Best Interest principle corresponds with the convention’s spirit. Article 9 talks about the child’s voice of whether they want to still live with their parents irrespective of neglect and mistreatment.    

Balancing Parental Rights with Child Welfare

Balancing Parental Rights with Child Welfare

Considering pediatrics, decision-making is guided by the interaction of the child’s framework. As declared in the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child, upholding the rights and responsibilities bestowed upon the parents and the state in correspondence with the child’s welfare is pivotal.    

Child welfare varies from case to case through a judicial officer, who analyzes the factorial lists codified strictly in the statute. The court promotes a child’s relationship with the parents but also believes that it should be limited when it comes to parents abusing the legal responsibility towards their children.    

For example, Colorado Law requires the child’s physical and mental health under paramount importance, and the court has the right to limit the rights of the parents based on substance abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and refusal to communicate and co-parent. The court can also curb the rights (in Colorado) if the parents don’t adhere to the necessary medical and mental health treatment of the child.   

Article 8 of the declaration establishes the basis of respecting a child’s right to a private or family life. This strikes a remarkable balance between the rights of the parents and the children, and it doesn’t violate their privacy. In American law, this is a pivotal implication that bestows child protection.    

Evidence and Documentation in TPR Cases

Evidence and Documentation in TPR Cases

The hearing is inevitable whenever sometimes files a case to terminate a parent’s rights. Both the parents and the state are liable for completion. However, before the hearing, the parents should be aware of this TPR’s documentation and be in court during the hearings. The primary evidence and documents are:    

Report from the Child Protective Services

CDS investigates the allegation of abuse and unsafe living conditions and documentation proving the treatment of the parent towards the child. The state files the report of abuse on behalf of the child.    

Witness Testimony

Witness Testimony is one of the damning evidence one should keep in mind when it comes to TPR. Testimonies from teachers, neighbors, social workers, or other family members prove crucial if they have witnessed the parents’ firsthand behavior and the child’s living conditions.    

Medical and Psychological Evaluations

Assessments made by medical professionals on physical and psychological well-being help provide insights into the child’s emotional and physical health. These tests also work effectively on the parents as well if the state deems them that they are unfit to raise a child.    

Police Reports

Documentation of any criminal activities with the child welfare agencies against the parents can also address the TPR. The reports of domestic violence, molestation, sexual harassment, voluntary manslaughter, or murder of either of the parents can determine the TPR verdicts.    

Documentations on Efforts to Reunify

Suppose the parents’ side of the attorney can produce efforts made by the parents to reunify with their child, such as going to AA meetings, rehabilitating from substance abuse problems, and becoming financially stable enough to sponsor their child. In that case, these documents can help the parents regain their rights and live as a happy family in the future.    

Alternatives to TPR

As mentioned above, TPR is the final solution to any problem if the child’s interests are unmet and their mental and physical wellness hampered. However, the judge sometimes thinks that there is no necessity for TPR in some exceptional cases. Let’s see what they are:    

Family Preservation Services: These services provide intensive support and intervention for families in crisis and address issues like substance abuse, mental health challenges, and other challenges while keeping the family intact.    

Kinship Care: Placing the child under the proper care of a family relative can also help prevent the implementation of TPR. It enables the child to stay amidst the family and still have visitations from the parents.    

Mediation Through Conflict Resolution Programs: Assisting families in resolving conflict through mediation, negotiation, and disputes improves communication and cooperation between the parents and the children.   

Wraparound Community Services: Wraparound community services like mental health support, housing assistance, and substance abuse treatment are great alternatives to TPR. These help in understanding and relinquishing the underlying issues and promote stability.    

Child Welfare Reforms: Child welfare prioritizing family preservation helps provide equitable access to support families and addresses the root cause of promoting family stability. It also helps address systematic discrimination, which can be one of the grounds for TPR.    

Parental Rights Restoration 

TPR might seem like an ultimate verdict at a glance. However, it has some perks as well. In exceptional cases, the parent’s rights are restored. How? Let’s find out.    

  • If a child isn’t adopted and their natural parents have relinquished their parent rights. The legal custodian of the child can file for restoration.    
  • If the parent of the child has improved their conditions on certain grounds. These include substance abuse, financial stability, and other matters the legal custodian of the child can file for restoration.    

The restoration procedure differs from place to place in the USA. For example, restoration is only possible in Alaska if the parent has voluntarily relinquished their rights. North Carolina, on the other hand, allows hearsay evidence to determine a child’s best interest. Conversely, the child brings the petition to the state through an attorney in Washington.    

Final Thoughts…

In this blog, we have been through an emotional roller coaster of the turmoil of going through the termination of parental rights. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for one to win in such a case. However, there have been several instances where people have won the cases even at the worst odds. Now that you know how to win a TPR case. Any family law court case will be a piece of cake for you. However, if you remember the legal counsel, your choice is efficient to guide you in the right direction.

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Titas Ghosh Chaudhury
Titas is a lawyer with a penchant for writing. In her leisure hours she likes to read books and collect Pokemon plushies and stay updated with different law judgements.

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