Children have the right to a healthy, safe home environment. Some children, however, cannot safely remain with all or part of their biological family.
Terminating parental rights is one of the most significant and impactful measures a court can take to protect a child’s health, safety, and well-being. While termination of parental rights may be necessary, it is essential that those seeking termination or fighting a parental rights termination in Alabama understand their options, rights, and remedies.
The Termination of Parental Rights Process in Alabama
The termination of parental rights (TPR) is a last-resort remedy available in the Alabama family or juvenile court system. Typically, a government agency, parent, guardian, or another family member can file a petition asking the family or juvenile court to terminate a parent’s rights. The TPR severs the legal bonds between a parent and child and frees the child for adoption.
Terminating a parent’s right means the following:
- The parent-child relationship no longer exists;
- The parent does not have the right to raise the child;
- The parent does not have a legal right to talk to or visit the child;
- The parent no longer has to pay child support;
- The parent is removed from the child’s birth certificate; and
- The child can be adopted without the parent’s permission.
The only way for a parent to maintain contact with their child after a TPR is with permission from the child’s legal parent or guardian.
Types of Parental Termination in Alabama
The termination of parental rights in Alabama may be voluntary or involuntary.
Generally, the courts expect both parents to financially and emotionally support their children. Thus, a parent typically cannot give up their rights to their child to avoid dealing with behavioral issues or paying child support.
Voluntary termination occurs when one parent signs over their parental rights. The requesting parent must establish that a TPR is in the child’s best interest. Involuntary termination occurs in dire situations and if there is no other less restrictive and permanent alternative.
How to Win a Termination of Parental Rights Case
A parent asking the court to terminate their child’s other parent’s rights must establish the grounds for involuntary termination.
Potential grounds include:
- Abandonment of the child,
- Pervasive emotional or mental illness,
- Pervasive alcohol or substance abuse,
- Abuse or neglect,
- Sexual abuse,
- Failure to pay child support,
- Failure to regularly exercise child visitation, and
- Long-term incarceration.
Essentially, a court may order a termination if the parent is unable or unwilling to discharge their parental responsibilities, the parent’s condition or conduct is unlikely to change, and it makes them unable to care for their child.
How to Stop Termination of Parental Rights
Receiving notice of a parental rights termination hearing can be overwhelming. However, parents can oppose an agency’s or another parent’s efforts to terminate parental rights.
Parental termination cases are complex and require strict adherence to filing, notice, and procedural rules. Those facing these proceedings should consult with an Alabama family law attorney to learn how to stop the termination of their parental rights.
An attorney can gather evidence and prepare a compelling case for why termination of parental rights is inappropriate.
Some ways to stop the termination of parental rights include proving the following:
- The child wants to be reunited with the parent,
- The parent’s circumstances have improved to a point where they can safely parent their child, and
- Reunification is in the child’s best interest.
Stopping the termination of parental rights is time sensitive and should be handled by an experienced family attorney.
Contested Termination of Parental Rights
Parents who believe they have experienced the wrongful termination of their parental rights should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Generally, once a court terminates parental rights, those rights cannot be restored. A parent contesting the termination of their rights must be able to prove that the termination was invalid.
Some ways to do this include arguing the following:
- The court failed to look at viable alternatives; or
- Consent to the termination was obtained by duress, fraud, undue influence, or fraud.
Those who believe that the evidence used to terminate parental rights was invalid should consult with a skilled Alabama family law attorney immediately.
Learn More About How to Fight a Termination of Parental Rights Case in Alabama by Speaking with an Experienced Divorce Attorney
If you are dealing with issues related to the termination of parental rights—either your own or your former partner’s—it is imperative that you have an experienced Alabama family law attorney by your side at every step of the way.
At The Law Offices of Charlotte Christian and Associates, we have extensive experience helping individuals through proceedings involving the termination of parental rights. Whether you are seeking to terminate the parental rights of an abusive or drug-addicted parent or defending a wrongful termination action brought by your former partner, we can help.