Terminating Parental Rights in Chattanooga

Whether your parental rights have been terminated or if you are a relative or an individual seeking to adopt a child, terminating parental rights in Chattanooga is a complicated and emotional process for everyone involved.

Between appellate rules, timing guidelines, and state law, you should not pursue your case without a skilled adoption attorney familiar with the process. An experienced legal team could work to help you seek a favorable outcome and protect your rights and interests along the way.

Common Reasons Parental Rights are Terminated

There are several different ways the state can terminate an individual’s parental rights under the law. The most common reason is that a child has been legally abandoned. This means that a parent failed to either visit the child or pay court-ordered financial support for the child for at least four months.

Other grounds for termination that might apply is if DCS removed a child from the home for six months without the parent taking any significant steps to regain custody. In either circumstance, the court has the right under law to terminate that person’s parental rights involuntarily.

Voluntary Termination of Rights

Sometimes, parents are conscious that they cannot take care of their child or children. Under these circumstances, the parent often agrees to surrender their parental rights to help ensure the child has a better future. Biological parents often do this when a family who wants to adopt the child is present.

How Long Does the Process Take?

Typically, the process to terminate parental rights is attached to an adoption case, which has a six-month waiting period for most families. However, there is an exception under the law that if the parents or individuals who are attempting to adopt the child are biologically related to that child, the court can waive the six-month waiting period. Therefore, under these circumstances, an attorney can ask the court to waive that six-month waiting period. A local lawyer could further explain the process and timelines in an individual’s specific case.

What Rights Do Parents Have Before a Termination is Finalized?

Biological parents, unless it is removed or amended by the court, have the right to the following:

  • Visit the child
  • Parent the child
  • Make decisions for the child
  • Have custody of the child

Until the court takes those rights, the parents have all the rights that would typically be afforded to any other parent. Additionally, in Chattanooga, the birth parent does have the right to appeal a termination on some grounds. Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure 8A pairs the right to an expeditious appeal if a trial court terminates a parent’s rights.

A party fighting for their parental right can put forward a defense with legal counsel to the court. For instance, they can provide evidence that shows they did not willfully abandon their child or that they were prevented from seeing their child by another party. Notably, the burden of proof is on the petitioner, so it is crucial to have a legal representative under these circumstances.

An Attorney Can Explain the Termination of Parental Rights in Chattanooga

In each termination of parental rights case in Chattanooga, it is essential to have an experienced attorney who can help you reach a favorable outcome. Whether you are a parent fighting to keep your parental rights or are a party adopting a child, our dedicated team can help. Call our firm today to discuss your case in a private consultation.

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