TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
In Georgia, a parent may see their rights to their child revoked if it is determined that they are incapable of caring for their offspring and/or pose a threat to the child’s safety.
It should be noted, however, that the termination of parental rights is an extremely sensitive issue and the Juvenile Court, which presides over such matters, is generally reluctant to remove a child from the care of its parent or parents. For this reason, the Court will only entertain a petition for the termination of parental rights if it has been filed by somebody who has in-depth knowledge of the relationship between the parent and child in question, which is usually interpreted as an immediate family member. Furthermore, any petition for the termination of parental rights should be endorsed by the child if possible, so those seeking to begin the process of revoking a party’s parental rights should be certain that the juvenile is willing to corroborate their report and perhaps provide further evidence of the parent’s ineptitude.
A termination of parental rights is not enacted without much deliberation by the Court and so anyone considering pursuing a petition for termination should obtain specialized legal assistance.
The Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell is always willing to aid in crafting a petition for terminating parental rights, provided that the party seeking help has reason to believe the subject’s ability to raise their child has been affected by one of several factors recognized by the Court as grounds for action.
Grounds for terminating a parent’s rights in Georgia
Under Georgia law (Section 15-11-94), a judge can terminate a parent’s rights for any of the following reasons:
- the parent gave written consent to terminate their rights or voluntarily surrendered the child for adoption
- the parent willfully failed to comply with a child support order for 12 months or longer
- the parent abandoned the child
- the parent has been convicted the murder of the child’s other parent
- the court finds parental “misconduct or inability.”
How is parental misconduct or inability determined?
In Georgia, the court determines parental misconduct or inability by finding that:
- The child is a deprived child
- The child is deprived because of lack of proper parental care or control
- The cause of deprivation is likely to continue or will not likely be remedied, and
- the continued deprivation will cause or is likely to cause serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to the child.
Courts in Georgia must follow a two-step procedure when determining whether to terminate parental rights due to parental misconduct or inability.
First, the court must determine whether there is clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability. Georgia law provides a list of factors the court may look at, including:
- drug or alcohol abuse
- conviction of a felony
- abuse of the child
- neglect of the child
- injury or death to a sibling resulting from parental neglect or abuse
If the child is not in the custody of the parent, the court will also look at whether the parent failed to do the following (for a year or longer before filing the petition):
- develop a parental relationship with the child
- provide for the child as required by law or judicial decree
- comply with a court-ordered plan designed to reunite the child with the parent or parents
If the court determines that there is parental misconduct or inability, the court must then determine whether it is in the child’s best interest to terminate the parental rights of the parent at issue.
Call Us Today at (770) 479-0248 to See How We Can Help
Georgia law treats the termination of parental rights very seriously, as do we at The Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell. If you require assistance in preparing a petition for the termination of parental rights, we will do everything in our power to help if we believe your case to be legitimate. Similarly, if you feel you have been the victim of an unfounded petition against you, our attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure the case is dismissed and your reputation restored.