Termination of Parental Rights in Texas

In Texas, the termination of parental rights is a serious matter that involves the fundamental right of parents to care for and make decisions for their children. The court must have clear and convincing evidence to ensure the parent's rights are not mistakenly ended. This standard is necessary to protect both parents and children.

The Texas Family Code specifies several reasons a parent may seek termination of parental rights, including abandonment, endangerment of the child's physical or emotional well-being, failure to comply with court-ordered plans, and substance abuse. Additionally, the court may terminate a parent's rights if they have engaged in criminal conduct or have had their parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child.

The court will also evaluate whether terminating the parent's rights is in the best interest of the child. It's important to note that the reasons listed above are not exhaustive, and each case's specific circumstances will be considered. Thus, in cases of termination of parental rights, it's crucial to seek legal counsel and carefully consider all options.

Constitutional Rights of Parents

The Constitution protects a parent's fundamental right to care for, have custody of, and make decisions for their child. When the government tries to take away these rights, it must proceed with caution. A court can only end a parent's rights to their child if two conditions are met. First, the parent must have committed a wrongful act or failure to fulfill a legal requirement. Second, the court must determine that terminating the parent's rights serves the child's best interest. See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65–66 (2000); In re K.M.L., 443 S.W.3d 101, 112 (Tex. 2014)

The court needs certainty about the evidence (the standard is clear and convincing evidence due to the significance of this decision. The evidence must be clear and convincing to minimize the risk of mistakenly ending a parent's rights. This high standard of proof is necessary to protect the rights of parents and their children. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 161.001(b); see also In re S.Y., 435 S.W.3d 923, 927 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2014, no pet.)

The Texas Family Code (Section 161.001)

TFC 161 gives the specific reasons for which a parent may seek termination. They are-

  1. The parent has voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the child's adequate support, and remained away for at least six months.
  2. The parent has abandoned the child without identifying the child or left the child in the care of others without support for an extended period.
  3. The parent has endangered the child's physical or emotional well-being.
  4. The parent has engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with someone who engaged in conduct that endangered the child's physical or emotional well-being.
  5. The parent has been convicted or placed on community supervision for certain crimes, including crimes against the child, the child's other parent, or a sibling.
  6. The parent has had their parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that their conduct violated certain provisions in the Texas Family Code or that termination was in the child's best interest.
  7. The parent has constructively abandoned the child, meaning they have not regularly visited, communicated with, or provided financial support for the child.
  8. The parent has failed to comply with a court-ordered plan to reunite with the child.
  9. The parent used a controlled substance that endangered the child's health or safety and failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program.
  10. The parent knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that resulted in their imprisonment and inability to care for the child for a substantial period.

The court will also consider whether terminating the parent's rights is in the best interest of the child. The reasons listed above are not exhaustive, and the specific circumstances of each case may vary.

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