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Terminating Parental Rights

Terminating parental rights is a serious proposition: once they’re terminated, that person is no longer considered their child’s legal parent. This is a difficult situation for both parents and the child. Minnesota has nine situations in which a parent’s rights to their child can be removed for good.

Parental rights hinge on:

  1. Abandonment: Legally, abandonment occurs when a parent fails to have regular contact with their children or show interest in their well-being for six months, absent a good reason.
  2. Absent birth father: An absent birth father was not married to the mother at the time of birth or conception, is not listed on the birth certificate, has no involvement with the child including financial support and has not registered with the father’s adoption registry.
  3. Egregious harm to the child: Sometimes, when a child is severely hurt in a parent’s care, their rights may be taken away.
  4. Failing to improve after children are put in foster care: When children are placed in temporary foster care, the parents are expected to fix the reason they were taken away. If they fail to do this, their rights may be terminated.
  5. Lack of financial support: If there’s a court order for child support but the parent refuses to pay, their rights can be terminated. Two or three missed payments, a compelling reason and modification do not rise to the level of financial abandonment.
  6. Neglect while in foster care: When the children are in foster care and cannot go home—and/or the parent fails to visit or support them financially while in foster care—rights may be terminated.
  7. Neglect: When a parent can provide for their child’s needs—food, shelter, education, clothing and more—but fail to do so, they are considered neglectful.
  8. Serious criminal conviction: Typically, this means a conviction for killing a child or committing assault against one’s own children.
  9. Unfit parent: If a parent’s behavior demonstrates they cannot (or aren’t willing to) take are of the child’s physical, mental and emotional health, they may be deemed an unfit parent.

If you’re concerned about termination of parental rights, the compassionate family lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in Minneapolis can help. Call today to get started.

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