A custodial parent may seek a termination of parental rights for a child who no longer has a relationship with a non-custodial parent. In such cases, the court will typically order a hearing. However, if a non-custodial parent agrees to terminate his/her parental rights, child support obligations will cease.
Court Considerations in Termination of Parental Rights Cases
- Efforts made to have a relationship with the child
- Whether child support had been provided in the past and/or the present
- The child's wishes/the best interest of the child
- Abandonment--whether or not the parent abandoned the mother during pregnancy or abandoned the child after the birth of the child
- Whether the non-custodial parent's behavior placed the child in danger
Courts will focus on the best interest of the child when considering termination of parental rights. However, courts prefer not to terminate parental rights. It is considered a last resort. Unless a child is in a dangerous situation, or someone is willing to adopt a child, a court would prefer to avoid terminating a biological parent's rights. Instead, courts will attempt to accommodate a parent's needs and wishes, to the furthest extent necessary.
Termination of parental rights proceedings should not be taken lightly. If child support payments are the driving force behind a non-custodial parent's desire to terminate his/her parental rights, a non-custodial parent should first try to modify the child support payments, prior to consideration of a complete release of parental rights.