There are two different situations in which an individual’s parental rights may be terminated. First, a parent can voluntarily terminate his or her parental rights if, for example, another individual or couple wishes to adopt the child. This type of parental rights termination must occur before an adoption can take place under Georgia law.
The other situation involves an involuntary termination of a parent’s rights. This type of scenario usually occurs when an individual wishes to terminate his or her child’s other parent due to neglect or abuse of the child. There are a number of different grounds that may justify an involuntary termination of parental rights. These reasons can include mental illness, abuse, loss of rights to another child, or even a certain felony conviction on the parent’s record, in some cases. Additionally, the state of Georgia may seek to involuntarily terminate an individual’s parental rights if a child has been placed in the custody of social services for 15 out of the last 22 months, or sometimes even a shorter period of time. Another type of voluntary termination might occur if a parent has failed to contact or support the child for over a year, and a stepparent is seeking to adopt the child. In this situation, the termination of parental rights can clear the way for a stepparent adoption to occur.
The legal standard for terminating parental rights under Georgia law requires proof of four elements:
- The parent currently in unable to care for the child.
- This deprivation is likely to continue.
- The continued deprivation is likely to cause serious mental, emotional, or physical harm to the child.
- A termination of parental rights is the child’s best interest.
It should be noted that involuntary termination cases can be very difficult and complex, often involving more than one hearing. The Shaw Law Firm has represented many cases involving such complex termination and can help advise you about the strategy that would be most beneficial or appropriate in your legal matter.
Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.
Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.