Terminating Parental Rights in New York

There are certain circumstances under which it may be appropriate to terminate parental rights. In fact, in Westchester County and throughout New York, termination of parental rights may be either voluntary or involuntary. A parent may voluntarily relinquish his or her parental rights in order to allow the child to be adopted by a stepparent or other non-relative. Conversely, one parent may seek involuntary termination of the other parent’s rights if the other parent is unable or unwilling to provide and care for the child adequately.

Legally speaking, acceptable grounds for termination of parental rights in New York are limited to the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child for at least six months.
  • The parent is mentally disabled or otherwise incapable of parenting the child.
  • The child has been permanently neglected by the parent.
  • The child has suffered repeated or severe abuse by the parent.
  • The parent was convicted of murder, attempted murder, involuntary manslaughter, assault or aggravated assault of another of his or her children.
  • The parent is incarcerated and refuses to cooperate with efforts to care for the child.

When a parent's rights are terminated their child can be legally adopted. Additionally, a parent whose rights are terminated no longer has any financial (child support) obligation to the child — nor does he or she have any further rights to custody or visitation. Those seeking termination of a parent’s rights, such as foster parents, stepparents and exes, must complete a process that includes several steps, such as petitioning the court, appointing an attorney for the child and attending a hearing.

It’s important to remember that termination of parental rights is meant to be a permanent arrangement and should therefore be taken very seriously. It is possible for parental rights to be reinstated, but only after two years pass, if the child has not been adopted and if several other conditions are met. For assistance with this and further family law issues, consult a trustworthy and supportive attorney.

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