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Seeking Advice from Family Law Attorneys about Terminating Parental Rights

Even though the courts are often reluctant to do so, there are times that it may be necessary to terminate a parent’s rights. It isn’t a matter that the courts will take lightly, so if you are trying to sever your spouse’s parental rights, you need to seek advice from family law attorneys to find out how to do so. To sever a parent’s rights in Georgia, the law outlines only a few, very specific, reasons under which you may file for parental rights termination. Legal procedures are complicated and it is important that you get a good family law attorney to assist you.

The Process for Severing Parental Rights

In order for a parent’s rights to be terminated in Georgia, someone has to file a petition for it to be done. This could be a spouse, a grandparent or another family member. The petition is then taken to juvenile court, which has jurisdiction over the matter. The petition then has to be verified and endorsed by the juvenile court before it can be filed.

The child, or children, involved in the matter will be appointed an attorney to represent them after the petition is filed. Although this is a civil matter, this is the only type of case in which family law attorneys may be appointed to the adults in the case if they cannot afford their own representation.

The petition has to be delivered to both parents, of the surviving parent if one of them is dead. If the parent doesn’t appear in court, then the child may be put in protective custody. A hearing is then scheduled for 90 days after the petition is filed. In this matter, there is no jury and the judge has the authority to terminate a parent’s rights.

Reasons for Terminating Parental Rights

By law in Georgia, a parent’s rights can be terminated for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The parent willingly consented to it in writing or they surrendered their child for adoption.
  • The parent hasn’t complied with a child support over for at least a year.
  • The child was abandoned by the parent.
  • The court determined there was parental misconduct or inability.
  • The parent was convicted of murdering the child’s other parent.

There are four conditions that have to be met by law for the court to determine parental misconduct or inability. These conditions are:

  • The child is considered deprived.
  • The parent didn’t exercise proper care and control, leaving the child deprived.
  • The deprivation is likely to be continued or not remedied.
  • The continuing deprivation could cause the child to be physically, mentally, morally or emotionally harmed.

This could include physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a child, drug or alcohol abuse, neglect or the injury or death of a sibling. Once the parent’s rights are terminated, they are terminated forever.

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