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Termination Of Parental Rights In Florida


While Florida courts understand how important it is for a child to have a relationship with their parent(s) and recognize a parent’s right to make decisions regarding their child’s life, there are sometimes when courts may intervene and terminate parental rights. While this might seem unfair, there are some situations in which terminating parental rights may be what is best for a child. In this article, we discuss the situations under which termination of parental rights may occur and the procedures that must be followed when doing so.

Understanding Parental Rights

Before discussing the circumstances under which termination of parental rights may occur and the procedures that must be followed when doing so, it is important to discuss what “parental rights” are. Generally, parental rights allow a parent to make certain decisions and take certain actions on behalf of their child. Parental rights include, among many others, the following:

  • The right to have contact and decide who has contact with the child.
  • The right to make medical decisions for the child.
  • The right to decide which school the child attends.
  • The right to leave your assets to your child.

When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?

In Florida, grounds for terminating parental rights may be established under, among others, the following circumstances:

  • When a parent has voluntarily surrendered the child.
  • Abandonment or when a parent’s identity or location is unknown and cannot be ascertained within 60 days.
  • When the parent of a child is imprisoned.
  • When a parent has engaged in egregious conduct.
  • When a parent is guilty of child abuse.
  • When the parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been terminated involuntarily.
  • When a parent has a history of alcohol or substance abuse which renders them incapable of caring for the child.

In Florida, there are a total of fourteen statutory grounds which allow the termination of a parent’s rights.

The Process of Terminating Parental Rights in Florida

Usually, before parental rights can be terminated, it must be determined that grounds for termination exist. If grounds for termination are found to exist, the first step in terminating parental rights is filing a petition. And, according to Florida Statute 63.087, in this petition, a petitioning party must include, among other facts, the reasons why they believe parental rights should be terminated.

After a petition is filed, the petition, with a notice of the place, date, and time of the subsequent hearing on the petition, must be served on all necessary parties.

Once that is done, an answer to the petition or a pleading requiring an answer must be filed. Failure to do so constitutes grounds upon which the court may terminate parental rights.

Lastly, the hearing will occur, and the court will make a decision after considering all necessary evidence and what is in a child’s best interest.

Allow Joyce A. Julian To Help You

If you’re seeking to terminate the parental rights of another or have been served with an action seeking to terminate your parental rights, you need to speak to an experienced family law attorney. Call 954-467-6656 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Fort Lauderdale family law attorney at Joyce A. Julian, P.A.


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