Most termination cases in Texas are of the “involuntary” genre. Essentially, a parent’s rights to a child are terminated under section 161 of the Texas Family Code. Some of the more salient grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights are:
A child who is born to a mother who during the pregnancy used a controlled substance, as defined by chapter 481 of the Health and Safety Code, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription, or alcohol.
A parent who voluntarily leaves a child alone or in the possession of another, not the parent and expressed an intent not to return.
A parent who voluntarily leaves a child alone or in the possession of another, not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remains away for a period of at least 3 months.
A parent who voluntarily leave a child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least 6 months.
A parent who knowingly places a child or allows a child to remain in conditions or surroundings which will endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child.
A parent who abandons a child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence.
These are just a few of the grounds used by Texas judges to consider the involuntary termination of a parent’s rights to a child.
In Texas, the natural rights existing between a parent and their child is of great constitutional dimensions. However, if the grounds to involuntary terminate the parent’s rights are determined by a Texas Court, a termination order is complete, final, irrevocable and divests for all time that natural parent’s rights as well as all legal rights, privileges, duties and powers with respect to each except that child’s right to inherit. Accordingly, termination cases are strictly scrutinized and involuntary termination laws in Texas are strictly construed in favor of the parent.
However, the question of whether termination of a parent’s rights to a child is always what is in the “best interest of the child” and is a conclusion drawn from the reasonable inference of the evidence presented to a trier of fact.
Circumstantial evidence can sufficient to terminate a parent’s rights to a child. This type of evidence is simply indirect evidence that creates an inference to establish a central fact. the evidence supporting the predicate grounds for termination also may be used to support findings that the best interest of the child warrants the termination of the parent-child relationship.
Involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship is totally different than a voluntary termination of the parent’s parental rights. A parent, usually the noncustodial parent, in a situation that justifies to that parent the voluntary termination of his parental rights is a totally different situation to the Courts. We will address that scenario in a later blog. Suffice it to say that a parent wishing to pursue termination of his parental rights for reasons that involve personal and financial reasons is not going to hold legal significance.