For the last few months, our blog has spent some time discussing how and why parental rights are terminated here in Minnesota. Our purpose in doing so has been to debunk popular misconceptions and provide those who find themselves in these otherwise difficult scenarios with some much-needed answers.
We'll conclude this discussion in today's post by exploring what parents can do to help stop their parental rights from being terminated or, if termination appears imminent, what they can do to mitigate the fallout.
If a parent's children are in foster care but no request for the termination of parental rights has been filed, are there any steps the parent can -- and should -- take?
According to legal experts, parents who find themselves in these otherwise unenviable positions and are committed to getting their children back should strongly consider doing everything in their power to follow their case plan.
If there are any questions as to what this case plan entails, they advise consulting with either an experienced legal professional and/or the social worker assigned to their case.
What if a request for the termination of parental rights has indeed been filed?
In these scenarios, legal experts indicate that a parent should strongly consider consulting with an experienced legal professional who can show the court how terminating parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child.
The legal professional can also help demonstrate the steps that a parent has been taking to address any underlying issues and the degree to which they are motivated to do what is best for their children.
What if it appears likely that the court will grant the request for termination of parental rights?
As unfortunate as this reality can seem, experts indicate that parents should understand that they might have options. Depending on the circumstances, they may -- after careful consultation with a social worker and/or legal professional -- seek what is known as a transfer of custody.
What is a transfer of custody?
A transfer of custody is essentially when a parent asks the court to turn over their ability to make important decisions on behalf of their children (i.e., legal custody) and their right to have the children reside with them (i.e., physical custody) to a family member, friend or foster family.
The purpose in doing this is that it will enable the parent to see their kids if the person with custody agrees or the court orders visitation. Most significantly, it won't result in the termination of parental rights and will preserve the parent's right to request custody at a later point.
Those who have questions about this incredibly complex topic or concerns about any other child custody matter should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.