Termination of Parental Rights Law and Legal Definition

Termination of parental rights is the severing of the parent-child relationship by the state. It is governed by state laws, which vary by state. Such a decision may be made based upon, among other factors, abandonment by a parent, child abuse, unfitness of a parent, and other injuries to a child. The parent whose rights are sought to be terminated has certain due process rights, such as proper notice and a hearing. An advisory hearing to notify the parents of their rights is typically held. After the termination of parental rights, the child is placed with someone other than the parent whose rights are terminated, such as the other parent or a foster home.

A parent whose rights are terminated is generally relieved of the obligation to pay child support, however, courts are reluctant to allow parents to avoid their child support obligations by waiving all parental rights to their children. Some courts disallow a parent to terminate parental rights in order to avoid child support payments. Local laws should be consulted for applicable requirements in your area.

The following is an example of a state law governing termination of parental rights:

"Grounds for terminating parental rights: Considerations; required findings. The primary consideration in any proceeding to terminate parental rights must be whether the best interests of the child will be served by the termination. An order of the court for the termination of parental rights must be made in light of the considerations set forth in this section and NRS 128.106 to 128.109, inclusive, and based on evidence and include a finding that:

  1. The best interests of the child would be served by the termination of parental rights; and
  2. The conduct of the parent or parents was the basis for a finding made pursuant to subsection 3 of NRS 432B.393 or demonstrated at least one of the following:

(a) Abandonment of the child;
(b) Neglect of the child;
(c) Unfitness of the parent;
(d) Failure of parental adjustment;
(e) Risk of serious physical, mental or emotional injury to the child if he were returned to, or remains in, the home of his parent or parents;
(f) Only token efforts by the parent or parents:

  1. To support or communicate with the child;
  2. To prevent neglect of the child;
  3. To avoid being an unfit parent; or
  4. To eliminate the risk of serious physical, mental or emotional injury to the child; or

(g) With respect to termination of the parental rights of one parent, the abandonment by that parent."