How are parental rights terminated?

Before you can adopt a child in Tennessee, the court must terminate the rights of the birth parents. Birth parents have legal rights to their child, which includes the right to raise that child, be in his or her life and make decisions regarding the child. In some cases, the court may have already terminated those rights, but if not, it must occur through a legal court process.

According to the Citizen Tribune, terminating parental rights is something the court takes incredibly seriously. It is not only ending a legal relationship but also an emotional one. However, for a child to be legally yours through adoption, he or she can only have one set of parents. Therefore, the birth parents must either give up their rights or the court must take them away.

To terminate parental rights, the court will have to find grounds on which to do so. The ground may include lack of visitation, abandonment, child abuse, lack of financial support and mental incompetence. The process usually begins with the Department of Children’s Services who will conduct an investigation to provide the proof required by the law for the relinquishing of parental rights. Do note this may take some time, especially if one or both of the parents want to fight for their rights.

If the court finds there are proper grounds, it will terminate the legal parental relationship. This means you can then make your formal request to adopt the child. This information is for education and is not legal advice.