Criminal Defense

Can Parental Rights Be Terminated After a Child Abuse Charge?

June 24, 2022 by Madison Ferguson in Criminal Defense  Rights  
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The Art of Parenting

Parents consider the relationship with their children to be of the utmost importance. If a court decides to take an involuntary termination of a parent’s parental rights, it is often a decision that’s not easy and has to be heavily weighed.

In California, courts can terminate a parent’s rights as they hold both legal rights and legal responsibilities in their children. Both parents of a child hold the right to make decisions regarding various issues like the child’s education, which religion to practice, and health care matters.

Unfortunately, suppose a parent becomes convicted on a child abuse charge or any other serious criminal offense or failure of the father to claim paternity to the child.

In that case, a California court can terminate the parent’s rights.

Reasons Why a Court Can Terminate a Parent’s Rights

Some parents might choose to terminate their parental rights voluntarily for several reasons. In such cases, it is usually due to enabling an adoption.

However, if the termination is involuntary, the most common reasons might be;

  • The child is facing severe abuse, showing signs of neglect and abandonment.
  • There are signs of sexual abuse in the child.
  • Other children in the home show signs of neglect or abuse
  • The parents cannot support the child financially.
  • The parent is facing a mental health illness.
  • The parent has long-term alcohol or other drugs related problems that hinder them from performing the obligations of a parent.
  • The parent is to be convicted of particular a serious felony.
  • Lengthy sentences might also trigger a court to take the parental rights as the child can be put under foster care.

What Happens to the child if the Parents lose Parental Rights?

If one parent loses parental rights, it usually means that the other parent automatically gains custody of the child. In some cases, the custody might fall to a step-parent, an adult sibling, or other close relatives. In cases where no one emerges to take custody of the child, the court places the child in foster care.

The Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997) ensures that states are legally required to terminate the parental rights of a parent if the child has been in foster care for at least 15 months in the last 22 months. However, the 15/22 rule has some exceptions, like if the child had a biological relative in foster care.

What Does the California Court Consider its Highest Priority?

Most states have very restrictive laws when it comes to the protection of children compared to federal law. Consequentially, most states have exceptions to these guidelines. In California, the courts make it their top priority to ensure that the child’s interests are met.

In many states, the termination of parental rights is irreversible, and there is no hope of reinstating them. Though, in 22 States, parents have an opportunity of petitioning for reinstatement of parental rights.

Biological parents in California can regain their parental rights only after considering how they lost them in the first place. Assembly Bill 519 (2005) provides for the reinstatement of parental rights if they were terminated due to neglect. However, this can be very tough due to the law.

How Are Parental Rights Restored After Termination?

In California, the law only allows the child to petition for the reinstatement of parental rights with the help of a foster parent or a social worker.

The law states that a petition can be filed after three years after the parental rights were terminated. Also, this petition requires the child not to have been adopted within that period.

Suppose the court determines that the parent has corrected the circumstances under which they lost the parental rights initially. It is in the best interest of that child to be reunited with the parent. In that case, they might decide to reinstate parental rights.

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Contact a Lawyer

If a parent is facing a court charge that might lead to parental rights being terminated, it is crucial to seek legal counsel from a lawyer knowledgeable in family and criminal law. Also, every parent should be aware of the law and be informed on why parental rights might be terminated.

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