Family court attorneys refer to the termination of parental rights as the “death penalty” of civil court. No legal action is more stressful or emotional for the parent.
In South Carolina, termination of parental rights is not taken lightly. Most social work agencies and family courts agree that children generally have the best outcomes when they are raised by their biological parents and severing the parent-child relationship should be done only when the state determines that the child’s welfare is clearly at risk.
When it is determined that the parent’s home is not suitable for the child, social workers and the court will generally try to persuade the parent to relinquish their parental rights so the child can be adopted.
But, sometimes, it is necessary to terminate parental rights involuntarily.
If you are facing a termination action, or if you are trying to terminate someone else’s parental rights, your SC family law attorney on the Axelrod team can help you navigate this complex legal territory.
Is A Termination of Parental Rights Final?
An adoption cannot happen until the biological parents’ rights are terminated.
When you adopt a child, you take on all the rights and responsibilities of being that child’s parent. Those rights and responsibilities cannot be transferred from the biological parent until their role as parent has been legally terminated.
Once parental rights are terminated, it’s final. This provides stability, finality, and protects the child and the adoptive parents from having their lives disrupted if the biological parents change their mind.
When Does the Family Court Terminate Parental Rights?
The grounds on which a court may decide to terminate parental rights involuntarily include:
- The child has been severely or repeatedly harmed and the court finds it unlikely the home situation will change within 12 months;
- The child already has been removed from the parent’s home, a placement plan has been put in place, and the parent has not addressed the problems that led to removal;
- The parent willfully fails to visit or support the child for six months while the child has lived outside the home;
- The parent suffers from a medical condition that makes appropriate child care impossible, and it is unlikely the condition will change (such conditions may include addiction, mental illness, or a severe physical disability);
- The parent has abandoned the child;
- The state had the child in foster care for at least 15 of the past 22 months;
- The parent has pleaded guilty or no contest to charges of physical abuse of the child that led to admission to the hospital;
- The parent has been convicted or pled guilty to murdering the child’s other parent; or
- The child’s conception was the result of criminal sexual conduct committed by the parent.
Does the Child Become A “Ward of The State?”
Courts rarely terminate parental rights unless there is a plan for adoption, but it can happen when the parent has done something egregious or the court determines that the child is in imminent danger.
Your Myrtle Beach family law attorney at Axelrod and Associates can help you to decide whether termination of a parent’s rights is necessary and we can help to complete your adoption proceedings. We also help clients who are fighting an unjust termination of parental rights, and we understand the irreversible effect that TPR has on a parent and child’s lives.
If you are considering adoption, or if you are facing a termination of parental rights, we want to help. Call Axelrod and Associates today at (843) 916-9300 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation.