Termination of Parental Rights

When a child is born, the parents have fundamental parental rights under the law. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) is the process that occurs when a parent’s rights are taken away by the court or signed away by the parent themself. There are two types of TPR: you can voluntarily sign away your parental rights (this is called voluntary TPR) or the court can take away your parental rights (this is called involuntary TPR). Either way, TPR is permanent and should be taken very seriously. The decision should not be made lightly, and the judge will have to consider all the evidence to decide what is in the best interest of the child long-term.

Voluntary TPR

A parent can voluntarily terminate their own parental rights by signing a form called a Written Voluntary Release of Parental Rights. The parent must show that they are waiving their parental rights knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. A person who is considering terminating their own parental rights is strongly encouraged to talk to an attorney because TPR is permanent and cuts of all of the parent’s legal rights and obligations to the child forever. Do not sign a voluntary TPR without fully understanding what you are signing and what this will mean for the future.

Involuntary TPR

Under Mississippi law, there are several grounds for the court to terminate a parent’s rights. The court may decide to terminate parental rights if the parent:

  • Deserts or abandons the child
  • Does not contact the child for a significant period of time (no contact for at least six months with a child who is younger than three years old, or no contact for at least a year with a child three years old or older)
  • Has a record of child abuse
  • Struggles with drug or alcohol addiction and refuses to complete court-ordered treatment programs successfully
  • Receives a medical diagnosis of severe mental illness or physical disability that makes them unwilling or unable to care for the child
  • Is unwilling to provide food, shelter, or medical care
  • Has a parent-child relationship that is seriously deteriorated due to the parent’s neglect, abuse, absence, failure to contact, or imprisonment
  • Gets convicted of a crime against a child
  • Abuses or neglects the child, then the child is removed from their custody and the court has determined that reuniting the child with the parent would not be in the best interest of the child

The parent who is facing TPR may fall into just one of these categories, or they may fall into multiple. If the court is considering terminating your parental rights, the court will appoint an attorney (called a Guardian ad Litem) to investigate the situation and make a recommendation about what they think would be in the child’s best interest.

It is also important to note that if one parent’s rights are terminated, this does not affect the parental rights of the other parent. Once TPR has occurred, this may open the door for the child to be adopted by other people in the future. For example, if the father terminates his parental rights, the child can then be adopted by their stepfather. If both parents have their rights terminated, the child can be adopted by other family members or by their foster family.

Know Your Rights – Talk to a Family Law Attorney Today

If you are considering terminating your parental rights or are facing the termination of your parental rights by the court, consider talking to a qualified, experienced family law attorney at Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. We handle all types of family law matters, including termination of parental rights, all across the state of Mississippi. Our firm can handle your case with a balance of compassion and confidence to guide you through one of the most difficult times a person can go through. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about your options.

Please also see us on mississippi-lawyers.com and view our reviews on avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and martindale.com. Our email address is mississippi-lawyers.com and our office phone number is (601) 948-4444 option 1.

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