When Will a Judge Terminate Parental Rights in Pennsylvania?

Sad boy looking through glass, talking to mother during visitation

Whether by choice or by court order, parental rights can be terminated for various reasons. In Pennsylvania, reinstating parental rights after termination is an immensely difficult task. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our team of experienced parental rights attorneys has been assisting parents and guardians in the Pocono Mountains region and the Lehigh Valley with their family law concerns for decades. We aim to ensure that you fully understand and protect your rights so that you can make informed decisions that are in the best interest of you and your child.

Why Do Courts Terminate Parental Rights?

The court places great importance on the bond between a parent and child. Judges are generally reluctant to terminate parental rights unless there are severe issues involved, such as serious child neglect, abandonment, or abuse. Parents who choose to voluntarily relinquish their rights often do so to allow their child to be adopted by someone else.

Parental rights may be terminated if a child is deemed at risk of harm if they return home, or if a parent is incarcerated, convicted of a violent felony, or suffers from a mental illness that prevents them from properly caring for their child. Each situation is unique, and the court considers involuntary termination of parental rights as a last resort. In all cases, the best interests of the child are the court’s top priority.

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What Happens When Parental Rights Are Terminated?

When the court terminates parental rights, there is no longer a legal relationship between a parent and child. The parent loses custody and visitation rights and is relieved of any obligation to pay child support. Additionally, the parent’s name is removed from the child’s birth certificate, and the child loses any inheritance rights. Once parental rights are terminated, the child can be placed for adoption without the parent’s consent. Only a few states allow for the reinstatement of parental rights after they have been legally terminated.

Can Parental Rights Be Reinstated?

In Pennsylvania, the termination of parental rights is typically permanent and can occur more quickly than expected. If a parent leaves their child in the custody of another person or agency and then fails to acknowledge their responsibilities as a parent or address the conditions that led to the child’s removal, a petition to terminate parental rights can be filed.

Even if a parent voluntarily signs over their rights for the purpose of adoption, there is no provision for restoring parental rights or reversing an adoption decree unless fraud, duress, or coercion occurred. It is crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced child custody lawyer if you are facing the potential termination of your parental rights. If your parental rights have already been terminated, a lawyer can assess the circumstances and assist you in pursuing any legal actions that may be appropriate.

How Can a Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney Help?

Whether you are considering giving your child up for adoption, have placed them in someone else’s care, or have had your custody removed, having a knowledgeable family law attorney by your side is always beneficial.

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In most cases, children are removed from their homes through a court order. However, authorities may have the right to take your child into protective custody immediately if there is evidence of imminent danger or if you or another adult in the home have been arrested. If your children have been taken by Pennsylvania Child Protective Services, you have the right to challenge their decision.

An attorney can advise you on the steps you need to take to regain custody of your child. If your children are placed in the care of a relative or foster parent, you have the right to visit them unless the court determines that contact with you would be harmful to the child. It is essential to attend all required court hearings and comply with any requirements set forth by CPS to increase the chances of your children being returned to your care.

These requirements often involve completing parenting classes, undergoing drug and alcohol treatment, attending anger management classes, or participating in therapy. Depending on the circumstances, child visitation may be supervised.

Although it may be a time-consuming process, fulfilling these requirements and demonstrating positive changes in your life to create a healthy environment for your children can help you avoid the termination of your parental rights. It can be an emotional and challenging journey, but with the support of a compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorney, you can find the strength you need to cope and work towards reuniting your family.

Contact an Eastern Pennsylvania Parental Rights Attorney

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices, our dedicated family law team is committed to assisting families in eastern Pennsylvania, always prioritizing the best interests of the children involved. To schedule a consultation with a parental rights attorney, contact us online or call us at 610-867-2900. We proudly serve clients throughout the Pocono Mountains region and the Lehigh Valley.

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