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Grounds for Terminating the Parent-Child Relationship

Termination of parental rights litigation is usually brought forward by either a parent who is seeking to terminate the parental rights of the other parent; by parents seeking to terminate their own rights so that a child may be placed for adoption; or by a state agency, such as, CPS seeking to terminate the parental rights of one or both parents.  It is important to note that all termination litigation requires a two prong test: 1) the grounds or reasons for termination of the parental-child relationship and 2) whether termination is the child’s best interest?  If both question cannot be answered in the affirmative, then termination cannot occur.

Grounds for Termination

The are numerous grounds for terminating a parent’s parental rights, including the following:

  •  The parent voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
  •  The parent voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent without expressing an intent to return, without providing for the adequate support of the child, and remained away for a period of at least three months;
  •  The parent voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support of the child and remained away for a period of at least six months;
  •  The parent knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
  •  The parent engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
  •  The parent failed to support the child in accordance with the parent’s ability during a period of one year ending within six months of the date of the filing of the petition;
  •  The parent abandoned the child without identifying the child or furnishing means of identification, and the child’s identity cannot be ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence;
  •  The parent voluntarily, and with knowledge of the pregnancy, abandoned the mother of the child beginning at a time during her pregnancy with the child and continuing through the birth, failed to provide adequate support or medical care for the mother during the period of abandonment before the birth of the child, and remained apart from the child or failed to support the child since the birth;
  •  The parent contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court under Subchapter D, Chapter 261;
  •  The parent has been the major cause of:
    • the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education Code; or
    • the child’s absence from the child’s home without the consent of the parents or guardian for a substantial length of time or without the intent to return;
  •  The parent executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights as provided by this chapter;
  •  The parent has been convicted or has been placed on community supervision, including deferred adjudication community supervision, for being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a child
  •  The parent had his or her parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child based on a finding that the parent’s conduct was in violation of Paragraph (D) or (E) or substantially equivalent provisions of the law of another state;
  •  The parent constructively abandoned the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or an authorized agency for not less than six months, and:
    • the department or authorized agency has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent;
    • the parent has not regularly visited or maintained significant contact with the child; and
    • the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the child with a safe environment;
  •  The parent failed to comply with the provisions of a court order that specifically established the actions necessary for the parent to obtain the return of the child who has been in the permanent or temporary managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services for not less than nine months as a result of the child’s removal from the parent under Chapter 262 for the abuse or neglect of the child;
  •  The parent used a controlled substance, as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner that endangered the health or safety of the child, and:
    • failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program; or
    • after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program, continued to abuse a controlled substance;
  •  The parent knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the parent’s:
    • conviction of an offense; and
    • confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;
  •  The parent has been the cause of the child being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, other than a controlled substance legally obtained by prescription, as defined by Section 261.001;
  •  The parent has voluntarily delivered the child to a designated emergency infant care provider under Section 262.302 without expressing an intent to return for the child; or
  •  The parent has been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child under Section 19.02 or 19.03, Penal Code, or under a law of another state, federal law, the law of a foreign country, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice that contains elements that are substantially similar to the elements of an offense under Section 19.02 or 19.03, Penal Code.

Additionally, a parent’s rights may be subject to termination under the grounds that the parent suffers from a mental or emotional illness or deficiency that will in all reasonable probability prohibit the parent from taking care of the child until the child’s 18th birthday.