The idea of the "state" swooping in and taking away a child is a parent's nightmare. The termination of parental rights is the most powerful tool that the government possesses to protect children. It is an extreme solution that is only used in the gravest of circumstances (or in adoption cases).
The grounds for termination break roughly into four categories: abuse of a child, the inability of the parents to raise the child, abandonment/failure to raise the child and other miscellaneous causes. This article will examine the first category, and a later article will address the remaining topics.
First, understand that states have varying laws regarding the termination of parental rights. However, insofar as abuse is concerned, the following acts are typically considered grounds for terminating a parent's rights:
- Subjecting the child to any form of sexual abuse.
- Inflicting chronic or severe physical abuse upon the child.
- Causing the child to suffer extreme emotional damage.
- Psychologically torturing or abusing the child in a severe manner.
Bear in mind that this is a partial general list. For a more detailed analysis, you may want to speak to an attorney. These are extreme circumstances regarding the safety or well-being of the child, the state will not come after you for occasional discipline or spanking. But, these investigations are run by people and people make mistakes. If you are under investigation by your state's child protection service, then you may want to speak to an attorney. These investigations are serious and can result in your parental rights being terminated. It is important to respond to any allegations and to protect your rights to care for your child.