This is the next post of a series of articles discussing terminating parental rights in Melbourne, Florida. Our previous article provided an overview of the topics to be addressed in this series. It also stressed the importance of engaging counsel with experience in child custody issues. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate this complex and often contentious legal process. In this post, we will review Florida law governing the termination of a parent’s rights and describe the types of extreme situations that may justify termination. If you are worried about your child’s well-being and considering a child custody action, contact our office today to speak with a family law attorney.
Florida law establishes twelve specific circumstances in which parental rights may be terminated. It is important to note that the statute addresses extreme parental conduct that may result in harm to the child’s physical, mental or emotional well-being. These include abandonment, conduct that threatens the life, safety or health of the child, and chronic drug or alcohol abuse preventing the parent from caring for the child. Long-term incarceration while the child is a minor or incarceration for certain violent or sexual related criminal offenses may also justify the termination of parental rights. A parent’s previous history of conduct resulting in the child’s removal from the home on three or more occasions or failure to comply with previously issued child welfare plans may lead to termination. Furthermore, sexual abuse or other egregious behavior that endangers the child may result in termination. Courts will carefully review evidence related to the conduct of the parent before issuing an order given the permanence of such a decision.
The termination of parental rights is a very serious matter. Once ordered, a termination means that the parent will no longer have any rights or obligations with respect to the child. In most cases, the termination of parental rights cannot be undone. For obvious reasons, a person who believes their child’s well-being is at risk should consider taking legal action to protect the child. Parents should be aware, however, that in many cases, a court may stop short of terminating the other parent’s rights. Absent clear and convincing evidence that the statutory grounds for terminating the parent’s rights exist, the court may change an existing custody order to limit or suspend the offending parent’s access to the child. Depending upon the facts of the particular case, the court may award sole custody to the non-offending parent or order supervised visitation. Each determination will be based on the specifics of the family’s circumstances.
Our firm is dedicated to representing clients in child custody and family law matters. Contact us today to speak with a Florida family lawyer. Our office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.