Missouri parents experience termination of their rights either by consent or legal contest. As a parent, you may bring the case to court of your own volition. In other cases, the court may summon you to come in for a mandatory or forced trial.
Termination of parental rights is permanent and requires serious thought. If you are consenting to the termination of your rights, you must understand that doing so will forfeit your status as a legal parent. You will lose all your rights to make decisions for your child, even when it comes to visitation.
When you understand your options, you can make a better decision. Continue reading to learn more about the legal termination of parental rights in Missouri.
You may consent to the termination of your legal rights, but your case will still go before a judge in court. You must demonstrate your intent to have your rights terminated in writing. In order for the court to terminate your parental rights, the court will first determine that the relationship is not in the best interest of the child.
If you put your child up for adoption, you will submit your written request for termination of your rights after the child is 48 hours old. Consent for adoption must come with the knowledge of adoption and willingness to relinquish rights.
Legal contest involves terminating the parent’s rights without consent of the parent. The court begins the process by determining if termination is in the best interest of the child.
Next, the court will consider the following extenuating grounds for termination. Should these apply to your case, you may lose your parental rights.
Sexual, emotional, and physical abuse are all common grounds for termination if they are apparent with other factors, like ongoing abuse or drug addiction.
Also, if the court deems a child under the age of one has been abandoned or neglected, all parental rights may be terminated. Abandonment is considered six months without any contact by a parent or an inability to determine the identity of the child’s parents.
In some cases, a parent leaves another relative to care for the child. After a long period of time, this relative may pursue a legal adoption.
The court may also terminate your rights if the child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months. The judge examines steps you have taken to remedy the situation.
The court also considers the cases of children born as a result of forcible rape. With clear evidence of forcible rape, the judge can easily opt to sever a biological father’s right to parent the child. If the biological mother retains her parental rights, she may still be eligible to receive child support from this individual.
Courts also force termination of parental rights in cases in which a parent is deemed legally responsible for the murder or manslaughter of another of their children. Even a murder attempt is reason enough to consider termination.
If the court demonstrates you have a chemical dependency on any drugs, including marijuana, you may lose your rights to parent your child. Missouri recently determined that not all marijuana use constitutes a dependency, but you must be able to prove in court that you do not have an addiction.
If you are facing termination of your parental rights, you are wise to consider the services of a family attorney. You may not be able to prove that you are a parent deserving of your rights without effective legal counsel.
The Lowry Law Firm understands the challenges you are dealing with at this time. Call our office today to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced family law professional.