How to Terminate Parental Rights of a Non-Consenting Parent

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“My husband and I have permanent custody of his 6 year old son from his previous marriage. He came to live with us 2 years ago after his birth mother was in a car accident and found with crystal meth on her person. The state of Nevada child services went in to the home and removed my step son. We have a letter from them saying that have charged her with abuse and neglect. However since we told them we wanted him and not to put him in foster care they said they were closing the case. We still have the letter from them but that is all they would do to help us with a case against her since they said the child was in a safe home with us. Also the ex wife was in the military at the time and apparently they were able to get all of her punishment done within the military so we are not able to get records of the time she spent in jail or in rehabilitation. All we have is an email from the military (that doesn’t have her name just the incident) and the photos of her totaled car. She did signed a temporary agreement and a permanent custody agreement agreeing that she was incapable of taking care of him and he was better off with his father. Although she has never denied what she has done if she did what kind of proof would we need against her to prove this? We wanted to remove her parental right at the time this happened but our lawyer at the time advised against it for the sake of the child and the mother. Now my step son is showing a lot of signs of depression and confusion in his day to day life about her and with us. She has not payed a dime of support for him but has seen him about twice a year and call a couple of times a month. He constantly cries for weeks when he has come back from seeing her and I think the stress of this is just killing him. We have not allowed her to see him unless he is with her family in Florida so far but we are not sure how long that will last because it was not in the agreement. We have my step son seeing a therapist now. We are waiting to see what he thinks about our situation and if it is doing more harm being in his life than it would be for her to be out of it. Once we have his professional opinion, if it is that she is still hurting him mentally, will we be able to petition to have her parental rights removed and for me to adopt him? If we could petition where would the proceedings most likely take place? She lives in Florida now and we live in Georgia (which is where all the custodial court proceeding took place) would we be able to petition to have her rights terminated in our state or would we have to go to the state she lives in or even the state that removed him from her care?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Generally the court that first takes jurisdiction over a child will continue to have jurisdiction. So it sounds like Georgia has jurisdiction. Georgia Code Section 15-11-94 gives grounds for termination of parental rights. Whether she consents or not, the Court will have to find that it is in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights. Some of the factors for doing so that you may have are failure to provide court-ordered support for more than 12 months, history of excessive substance abuse, extreme neglect, and other ways of dressing up the facts you have.

Therapy for the child, and perhaps the whole family, sounds like a good idea. The decision to try to permanently sever the relationship between a child and a parent is a serious one, so do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions before even starting proceedings.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.

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