Your Rights As A Parent Can Be Lost Through Inaction

In Louisiana, it is easy to lose your parental rights. If a parent does not have any contact with his or her children or fails to pay child support for six months, his or her parental rights can be terminated and the child can be adopted by a stepparent.

It often doesn't matter what the reason is for the parent's inactivity — whether because he or she is in jail or out of the country — or if the parent has an established relationship with the child. Once the six-month mark is hit, the child can be adopted by someone else.

Many parents use this as a bargaining chip during custody modifications. If their requests regarding custody and visitation are not agreed to, they will threaten termination and adoption by a third party, most often a stepparent.

There Must Be A Replacement Parent. The law will not let a child go from two legal parents to one. In order to terminate parental rights through this streamlined process, an adoption must take place.

What Is The Process

The parent wishing to terminate the other's rights files a petition in court. Notice of the petition is "served" or given to the other parent. If the parent consents a hearing will take place and the judge will sign the order. If the parent does not consent, he or she is required to file a "response" listing his or her arguments and legal authority. A hearing will be held where each party will make arguments and the judge will either approve or deny the termination.

There is a third scenario. If the parent cannot be located, the court will publish notice of the petition for four weeks, if the parent does not come forward, a hearing will be held and the court will grant the termination.

Stepparent adoption proceedings are filed at the same time. As soon as the termination has been approved in court, there will be a second hearing where the judge signs the adoption order.

Why You Need An Experienced Lawyer

I am attorney Gregory S. Johnson, I have more than 16 years of experience handling family law matters for clients throughout the Baton Rouge area. I represent parents on both sides — those wishing to terminate the other's parental rights and facilitate an adoption, and those protecting their rights as parents.

While the process may seem simple, terminating parental rights is no simple matter. Once accomplished, the former parent will no longer have a legal right to custody or visitation, and no legal obligation to pay child support. Your child will no longer inherit from their former parent.

No matter what your goal, I will help you throughout the process. For more information, contact my firm. You can reach me at 225-341-4690 or email me to schedule a free confidential consultation.