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Gregory S. Johnson, Attorney at Law
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The termination of parental rights

You may have no love lost for the non-custodial parent of your child. No matter the circumstances, if you and your former partner are struggling to effectively co-parent, you may be thinking of asking a judge to terminate the other parent's rights to the child.

Before you take this bold step, it is important to understand the ramifications. The termination of parental rights is permanent, and unless the other parent presents a clear danger, the courts are reluctant to remove the rights of a parent. However, if you feel it is important for the well-being of your child, seeking as much information as possible is the best first step you can take.

Making your case

When seeking the termination of your co-parent's parental rights, you will have to convince the court that such a move will benefit the child. This will not be an easy task. Providing evidence or documentation that supports your goal will help the court make a wise decision, for example:

  • Has the parent made little or no effort to build a relationship with your child?
  • Has the parent failed to provide consistent child support?
  • Does the child approve of the termination of parental rights, provided the child is old enough to understand the situation?
  • Did the other parent abandon you and the child?
  • Is the other parent violent, abusive or otherwise a danger to the child?

In all things, the court will be looking to make a decision that supports the child's best interests. In other words, will terminating the rights of the child's non-custodial parent maintain or improve the well-being and stability of the child's life?

A difficult path

Louisiana family courts err on the side of biological parents, so you should expect to face a challenge, especially if the other parent refuses to relinquish his or her rights. If you are now married and your spouse wants to adopt the child, this may tip the scale in your favor. However, without evidence that the child's well-being is at risk with the other parent, a judge may hesitate to approve the termination, especially since it means your child immediately loses any court-ordered financial support the other parent paid.

Of course, you may be fortunate enough that the non-custodial parent is willing to give up parental rights because it relieves him or her from the obligation of financial support or because the parent believes it is best for the child. However, this is a rare occurrence, and you would be wise to have legal assistance if you are determined to undertake the process.

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