As most people know, courts rarely want to terminate any adults parental rights regarding their children.
In fact, recent decades have revealed that even when theres strong reason to believe that one (never criminally convicted) parent may have killed the other, it still may be in the childrens best interests to be raised by the one surviving parent.
Although our culture clearly embraces the presumption that most parents are the best caregivers for their dependent children, Minnesota has passed legislation setting forth guidelines for its courts and social service agencies to help them decide when to terminate someones parental rights
You can learn more about the most common situations giving rise to this type of action by reading the 2015 Minnesota Statutes, Public Welfare and Related Activities, Chapter 260C, Section 260C.301. Its entitled Termination of Parental Rights. Heres a summary of the key provisions of this statute.
Acts and Omissions that Commonly Lead to the Termination of MN Parental Rights
Minnesota has assigned the duty to its juvenile courts to decide when parental rights should be terminated either on a voluntary or involuntary basis. In those rare instances when parents want to have their parental rights terminated, they must provide written consent for this action to be taken, usually after clearly explaining why they wish to let go of these rights.
However, the most common way that parental rights are terminated in Minnesota involves a juvenile court or public welfare agency initiating this action by filing a petition seeking this type of order or ruling. A family law attorney should be consulted for this. In general, only very negative circumstances can justify this involuntary type of parental rights termination, including situations when:
- A parent has abandoned a child to the extent that the childs most basic needs are not being met. Such needs generally include providing the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, and other care and control necessary for the childs physical, mental, or emotional health and development;
- A parent who is financially capable of doing so and who has been ordered by a court to financially contribute to a childs needs keeps refusing to do so;
- A parent has been found to be palpably unfit to be a party to the parent and child relationship often based upon a prior, negative ruling related to one or more of the persons other children;
- Necessary changes have not been met. After a child has been temporarily placed out of his/her home to receive care, one or both of the parents continue to fail to meet minimum standards set by the courts or statutes that would allow the child to return home.
Behaviors or Habits that Can Directly Lead to a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights
- Chemical dependency on certain types of illegal or harmful drugs. Social service agencies will normally make every effort to helpful an addicted parent obtain the treatment s/he needs in order to maintain a positive, active relationship with a child if the parent keeps working hard to remain clean and sober;
- Conviction of certain types of crimes. These include crimes set forth in Section 260.012, paragraph (g), clauses (1) to (5);
- A parent has deserted an infant under two years of age. Also, the specific circumstances must indicate an intent not to return to care for the child;
- A parent has not had any contact with a child on a regular basis. Agencies tend to look and see if such neglect or lack of demonstrated interest has extended over six months or longer;
- A child remains in foster care due to the abandonment of the parent;
- A parent demonstrates abandonment by legally denying paternity;
- Any behavior that a court clearly finds is directly at odds with the best interests of the parents child.
If your parental rights are now being threatened by a court, a social services agency or the custodial parent, you need to immediately schedule an appointment with your Minnesota family law attorney.
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