Termination of Parental Rights in Texas
In Texas, termination of parental rights can occur on either a stand-alone basis, i.e. as a separate suit, or as part of an adoption proceeding. When parental rights are terminated as part of an adoption proceeding, one parent voluntarily gives up his or her rights to a child, or the court orders that a parent’s rights to a child are terminated, so that an adoption can move forward. Sometimes a step-parent, grandparent, or other relative is waiting in the wings to adopt the child. On other occasions, a foster parent or other party may be the prospective adopting parent.
As previously mentioned, not all Texas termination suits are combined with an adoption proceeding and not all terminations of parental rights are voluntary. When a parent does not voluntarily terminate his or her rights, there may be grounds to involuntarily terminate his or her parental rights to a child.
Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Most of the grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights involve:
- parental abandonment,
- refusal to provide support to the child,
- abuse and/or neglect,
- knowingly placing a child in conditions or surroundings that endanger the physical or mental well-being of the child,
- engaging in conduct that endangers the physical or mental well-being of the child, and/or
- being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury to a child.
There are other grounds for termination of parental rights as provided by the Texas Family Code.
Proving that a Parent's Rights Should be Terminated
A person seeking to involuntarily terminate a person’s parental rights must prove the alleged grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard than “preponderance of the evidence,” which we see most frequently in civil disputes. Preponderance of the evidence merely requires that a party demonstrate that his or her allegations are more likely true than not. The clear and convincing evidence standard requires a party to prove that his or her allegations are substantially more likely true than not. In addition to carrying that burden, a person seeking to terminate another’s parental rights must prove that the requested termination is in the child’s best interests.
If you are seeking to terminate a person’s parental rights—whether or not the termination is coupled with a suit for adoption—call Dallas attorney Pete Rowe to review your matter in confidence.