A question that has been asked regularly by persons is whether they can terminate their rights to a child that they allegedly fathered but are not married to the mother.  A court will always look at the best interests of the child in determining whether to terminate a person’s parental rights.  Generally, in most cases, the rights of a parent will be involuntarily terminated in certain situations.

What does the Court need to see in order to involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights?

The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has:

(A) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and

expressed an intent not to return;

(B) voluntarily left the 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 remained away for a period of at least three months;

(C) voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing

adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months;

(D) knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings

which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(E) engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in

conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;

(F) failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability during a period of

one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;

(G) abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification,

and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable

diligence;

(H) voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the

child beginning at a time during her pregnancy with the child and continuing

through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother

during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart

from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;

(I) contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court under

(J) been the major cause of the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education

Code; or the child’s absence from the child’s home without the consent of the parents

or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return;

(K) executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of

relinquishment of parental rights as provided by this chapter;

(L) been convicted or has been placed on community supervision, including deferred

adjudication community supervision, for being criminally responsible for the death

or serious injury of a child under the following sections of the Penal Code, or under

a law of another jurisdiction that contains elements that are substantially similar to

the elements of an offense under one of the following Penal Code sections, or adjudicated

under Title 3 for conduct that caused the death or serious injury of a child

and that would constitute a violation of the Penal Code.

(M) had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child

based on a finding that the parent’s conduct;

(N) constructively abandoned the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than six months, and the department has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent; the parent has not regularly visited or maintained significant contact with the child; and the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the child with a safe environment;

(O) failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child’s removal from the parent for the abuse or neglect of the child;

(P) used a controlled substance in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child;

(Q) knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the parent’s conviction of an offense; and confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;

(R) been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription;

(S) voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency infant care provider without expressing an intent to return for the child;

(T) been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child;

(U) been placed on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, or another functionally equivalent form of community supervision or probation, for being criminally responsible for the sexual assault of the other parent.

In order to voluntarily terminate a person’s right involves a more complicated process and pertinent set of facts. It is not a simply process; however, I will address that situation in another blog.