Termination of parental rights (TPR) is the process by which all future rights and responsibilities of the biological parents are terminated.
Two of the more frequently used grounds for the termination of parental rights in a private adoption action are:
- The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has wilfully failed to visit the child. The court may attach little or no weight to incidental visitations, but it must be shown that the parent was not prevented from visiting by the party having custody or by court order. The distance of the child’s placement from the parent’s home must be taken into consideration when determining the ability to visit, and;
- The child has lived outside the home of either parent for a period of six months, and during that time the parent has wilfully failed to support the child. Failure to support means that the parent has failed to make a material contribution to the child’s care. A material contribution consists of either financial contributions according to the parent’s means or contributions of food, clothing, shelter, or other necessities for the care of the child according to the parent’s means. The court may consider all relevant circumstances in determining whether or not the parent has wilfully failed to support the child, including requests for support by the custodian and the ability of the parent to provide support.
These two ground are independent of one another and only one needs to be shown for the judge to grant the termination of the parent’s rights.
The judge has a great deal of discretion; even though you may be able to show that the biological parent has wilfully failed to visit or support the child, the judge may determine after reviewing all the facts that it is not in the best interest of the child to terminate the parent’s rights.