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When Is it Appropriate to Terminate Someone's Parental Rights?


Child CustodyOur country has a rich judicial history of recognizing the paramount importance of a person’s individual rights. At a fundamental level, a person has a constitutionally guaranteed right to start a family and have a relationship with their children. Given the importance that families have in our society, our justice system will only terminate a person’s parental rights as a method of last resort. This blog post describes specific situations where ending a person’s parental rights is legally justified.

Statutory Grounds for Terminating the Parent-Child Relationship

The authority for allowing our courts to terminate a person’s parental rights resides in the Texas Family Code. Under Section 161.001, the court may terminate the parent-child relationship based on clear and convincing evidence that

  1. the parent engaged in a statutorily recognized act of misconduct (ground for termination), and that
  2. termination would be in the best interest of the child.

Section 161.001(b)(1) provides a list of types of grounds for termination that along with a finding that termination would be in the best interest of the child would reasonably support a court order terminating the parent-child relationship.

These grounds include, but are not limited to:

  • Endangering the health and safety of the child
  • Abandoning the child without identification; or
  • Murder or attempted murder of the child’s other parent

Factors for Determining the Child’s Best Interest

Section 161.001(b)(2) requires the court to evaluate whether terminating the parent-child relationship is in the best interest of the child. The law recognizes a strong presumption that a child’s best interest is served by preserving the existing parent-child relationship. However, if one or more of the statutory grounds of termination applies to the parent-child relationship, the presumption dissolves, and the court’s evaluation proceeds as though the presumption was never in effect.

When deciding whether to terminate someone’s parental rights, courts will consider the following factors when determining a child’s best interest:

  • The child’s desires
  • The current and foreseeable emotional and physical needs of the child
  • The present and future emotional and physical danger (of the parent) to the child
  • The parenting ability of those seeking custody
  • The availability of assistance programs for the parties seeking custody
  • The plans provided by those seeking custody on behalf of the child
  • The stability of the proposed home
  • Acts or omissions of a parent suggesting that the existing parental relationship is improper
  • Any excuse for the acts or omissions of a parent

Call Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers at (940) 293-2313

Our legal team at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers have decades of collective legal experience in litigating matters that frequently impact the lives of Texas residents. From divorces to issues regarding establishment of, maintaining or terminating parental rights, our skilled team of attorneys is dedicated to protecting and assisting you every step of the way.

To schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers for an initial consultation about your legal rights, call us at (940) 293-2313 or complete our online request form today.

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