Last time, our blog began discussing the termination of parental rights in a bid to provide helpful information and debunk some common misconceptions about this complex family law topic.
We'll continue this discussion in today's post, discussing some of the legal grounds on which a person's parental rights may be terminated here in Minnesota.
What are some of the more common grounds for terminating a person's parental rights?
Abandonment and neglect are frequently cited by courts as grounds for termination of parental rights.
As far as abandonment is concerned, it essentially means that a parent has failed to maintain regular contact with their kids or show any sort of interest in their wellbeing for at least six months, and failed to provide sufficient justification for this behavior.
As for neglect, it essentially means that a parent could provide for their child's needs -- shelter, food, clothing, education, etc. -- but fails to do so.
Can failing to provide financial support provide grounds for parental termination?
Yes. If the court finds that there is an outstanding order to make child support payments and these obligations are not satisfied, parental rights can be terminated. It's important to understand, however, that missing a few payments or being unable to make payments for otherwise viable reasons (job loss, illness, etc.) will likely not result in the termination of parental rights.
I've heard the term "unfit parent" used in legal proceedings before, is it applicable here?
Yes. The court can and will terminate parental rights if it determines that a parent is unfit. What this generally means is that a parent's behavior clearly evidences that they either cannot or will not take care of the physical, mental health and emotional needs of their child.
We'll continue to discuss this topic in future posts, including taking a look at the remaining grounds on which parental rights can be terminated and the legal process by which parental rights are terminated.
If you have concerns about child custody matters or other family law issues, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.
Source: Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, "Termination of parental rights," Accessed Jan. 30, 2015