Ask any parent and they will tell you that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. It’s even harder when the standards of being a “good parent” have changed dramatically over the years. Sometimes parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights because they feel it’s best for the child. Other times, parental rights are involuntarily terminated due to the parent being found unfit and it’s in the best interest of the child.
Parental rights are the duties that a parent has when it comes to deciding major life issues in a child’s life. These decisions are made with the child’s best interest in mind. Parental rights typically consist of: physical possession of the child, right to discipline the child, right to control and manage the minor child’s earnings, right to control and manage the minor child’s property, right to be supported by adult child, right to have child bear parent’s name and right to prevent adoption of child without parents’ consent. Beyond these rights, parents are also responsible for such things as providing the child with clothing, shelter, food, healthcare, education, etc.
GROUNDS FOR INVOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
The courts can take away parental rights if it feels it’s in the best interest of the child. When your rights are terminated, it means you are no longer your child’s legal parent. The court may order a termination of the parent-child legal relationship upon the finding by clear and convincing evidence of any one of the following:
- The child has been abandoned by his or her parents.
- The parent has been found to be unfit due to one of the following: Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency of the parent of such duration or nature as to render the parent unlikely within a reasonable time to care for the ongoing physical, mental, and emotional needs and conditions of the child.
- A single incident resulting in serious bodily injury or disfigurement of the child.
- Long-term incarceration of the parent of such duration that the parent is not eligible for parole for at least 6 years after the date the child was adjudicated dependent or neglected or, if the child is under age 6, the parent is not eligible for parole for at least 36 months.
- Serious bodily injury or death of a sibling due to proven parental abuse or neglect.
- An identifiable pattern of habitual abuse, sexual abuse of the child, or pattern of the torture of or extreme cruelty to the child, a sibling of the child, or another child of either parent.
- The parent has not attended visitations with the child as set forth in the treatment plan unless good cause can be shown for failing to visit.
- The parent exhibits the same problems addressed in the treatment plan without adequate improvement.
- The parent is unfit, and the conduct or condition of the parent is unlikely to change within a reasonable time.
VOLUNTARY TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
Voluntary termination of parental rights, or relinquishment, can often times be difficult because children have a right to a parental relationship. They have the right to receive care and financial support from both of their parents. Voluntary relinquishment is often done in cases of adoption. The biological parent chooses to give up their rights and gives those rights to the new legal adoptive parents.
REINSTATEMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
Colorado is one of the states that allows for the reinstatement of parental rights following termination of these rights. This can happen if permanent placement has not been found for the child within a specified timeframe or if the court determines that the parent is now able to provide a safe home for the child. A county social services department or the child's guardian ad litem may file a petition for reinstatement.
Giving up parental rights is a big decision. It’s important to understand what this means to both you and your child. Our Denver family law attorneys can help you understand the laws in Colorado. Contact us today!