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Termination of Parental Rights

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on November 17, 2014

Parental Rights

It is part of our ongoing blog post mission to help readers by demystifying certain legal definitions and legal issues in our practice area of family law. To that end, we will focus on what is known by way of the acronym TPR – which stands for termination of parental rights.

This very final-sounding phrase often accompanies the legal process surrounding the adoption of a child. The termination refers to the end of the foster parents or other caregiver’s legal parenting rights, which occurs when the child they had been caring for is legally adopted by others. The court proceeding, called a TPR hearing, will often include testimony by parents on both “sides” of a potential adoption.

Here is another adoption scenario, not involving foster parents or guardians: suppose a divorced couple has a child. The mother has remarried, and her new husband wishes to adopt the child (legally). In this situation, different scenarios for the biological father are possible. He may voluntarily relinquish (terminate) his own parental rights. In another scenario, if the biological father has demonstrated a lack of fitness as a parent, the court can step in and terminate the father’s parental rights. “Lack of fitness” can include a host of conditions, as addressed below.

On another, more pejorative side of this terminology, the legal termination of parental rights also can occur when the court recognizes that one or more parents of a child or children have serious issues that, in polite language, make them less than ideal people for their children to remain with. Examples of these conditions include:

  • substance abuse
  • physical/mental abuse of child
  • criminal issues

Termination of parental rights is not an issue taken lightly by the court in cases of discord between parents or even failure to pay child support, for example. Adoption, or just the obligations and responsibilities of parenting in general, are serious undertakings. Today, divorce is common; so are blended families. When the parents and children represent families blessed with high net worth assets and property, matters such as adoption and the termination of parental rights can extend beyond the emotional to the financial, with perhaps, greater-than-usual effects (or consequences). Complete parental commitment and clearly defined duties, including legal and financial ones, are essential in preventing discord at the very least, and traumatic effects on children’s well being at the other end of the spectrum.

By way of a reminder, the content of this blog is intended not as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. The content appearing may be considerably condensed and not comprehensive or complete. If you wish to clarify any point here included, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about parental rights, adoption, or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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