Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of parental rights is a somber, complex, and, often expensive process. The final decision hinges on a judge’s ruling.
With 30+ years in legal practice, The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt can help you achieve your desired outcome.
Our Arlington, TX, practice offers the legal guidance parents need when dealing with a voluntary or involuntary termination petition.
Serving Arlington, Southlake, Westover Hills,
and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
What Does It Mean to Terminate Parental Rights?
The term “parental rights” refers to the legal relationship between a parent and a child. When parental rights are legally terminated, the parent-child relationship is effectively ended. This means the parent no longer has child custody rights nor the right to see their child; this parent is also no longer allowed to make decisions regarding the child's upbringing or to contact their child. If ordered by the court, the biological parent's name will even be removed from their child's birth certificate.
Overcoming the Challenges
In a Custody Termination Case
Whatever the reason for the termination, attorney Donna J. Smiedt and her team understand the matter is complex. Termination of parental rights cases are challenging and require a high legal standard known as "clear and convincing evidence."
Our goal is to come to a final resolution that serves the best interests of your child. Donna helps to alleviate the toll that family law issue can take on you.
Who Can Seek Termination of Parental Rights?
Either parent can seek to terminate the rights of the other parent. as can any number of interested persons or governmental agencies.
Possibilities include foster parents, a potential adoptive parent, a concerned family member, or an employee of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). In each case, the court will become involved and enter a final determination on whether the rights of the parent should be terminated.
Navigating a Complex Case
If you are involved in a termination of parental rights case, you need the support of a family lawyer. An attorney can help you navigate the complex legal hurdles and protect the best interests of you and your family.
"Do you recommend Donna Smiedt?" OF COURSE I DO. She is one of the smartest lawyers I've ever known and she uses all of that intelligence to help her clients, first and foremost. That's what I call Relevant Competence - talent that matters because it is used to help real people with real challenges. She knows how to get people "across the finish line." And, she is highly regarded in the world of law and the courts. That's critical. You can't go wrong by hiring Donna Smiedt.View on Google
We hired Donna Smiedt to handle a very contentious child custody case in 2010. From the day we signed on to have Donna represent us we have received excellent representation and results. Donna has represented us well and listened to all of our needs and requests. Donna was professional and reassured us that our case would be taken care of. My wife and I can not say enough good things about Donna and her personal attention to a stressful matter. We highly recommend to anyone going through a divorce or considering divorce. You won't find a better family attorney than Donna Smiedt. Ed & Deidre McKiernan. Argyle, TXView on Google
Children in Foster Care
Face Custody Deadline
Parents with children placed in foster care face a deadline if they want to avoid termination of their parental rights. The Texas DFPS is required by law to request termination of parental rights if a child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months. Certain exceptions apply.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me? Learn Your Legal Rights. Request a Consultation.
There are many reasons for termination cases. Are you:
- A custodial parent looking to remove the other parent's parental rights?
- Voluntarily relinquishing your parental rights for a child?
- A grandparent seeking to gain parental rights of your grandchild?
- Adopting a foster child and need the child's parent to relinquish their rights?
Each of these situations is different and has distinct requirements, documentation, and timelines. Donna J. Smiedt, a board-certified family law attorney, has helped families in Arlington, Southlake, Westover Hills, and the DFW metroplex navigate the Texas legal system. She and her team of lawyers can help you with parental disputes.
If you are confronted with the termination of your parental rights, it's important to understand your legal options and how your next steps will affect your child's future.
Our Arlington family law office has a 30+ year history of helping families with their complicated legal choices. We draw from a deep well of past cases, and use our knowledge to advise families facing similar challenges.
To learn how child custody decisions today can impact your child in the future, request a consultation. You can reach our family law office online or call us:
Is an Adoption
in Your Future?
Ensure your parental role is clearly defined. In many cases, a judge must first terminate the parental rights of the child's biological parents before the child can be adopted. Both the adoption and termination can often be combined in the same legal proceeding. Some adoption cases, such as adult adoptions, do not require termination of parental rights.
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What Does "Best Interests of the Child" Mean?
All terminations of parental rights must be approved by a judge who will rule based on what is in the "best interests" of the child. Clearly, this standard leaves judges with broad discretion when it comes to child custody and visitation rights. However, courts generally use the Holley v. Adams Texas Supreme Court case as a guide.
Factors that may be considered include:
- The desires of the child
- The emotional and physical needs of the child, now and in the future
- The emotional and physical danger to the child, now and in the future
- The parenting abilities of the individual seeking custody
- The programs available to promote the best interest of the child
- The plans for the child made by the individual or the agency seeking custody
- The stability of the home or proposed placement
- Acts or omissions that demonstrate the parent-child relationship is not proper
- Any excuse for the parent’s acts or omissions
The Importance of Having an Attorney... Request a Consultation to Fully Understand Your Choices
Whether your rights as a parent are being questioned or you are seeking termination of someone's parental rights, it is critical to have an attorney in your corner. These cases are typically complex and involve many complicated questions of law.
The Family Law Firm of Donna J. Smiedt takes a methodical approach to gathering information so they can build a strong case on your behalf. Our family law attorneys make it their mission to see that you are represented fairly and competently and that your child's best interests are ultimately protected. We encourage you to contact our law firm online or call us today:
Were Your Rights
Terminated by CPS?
Texas allows a parent to potentially regain custody of their child when the parent's rights were involuntarily terminated by child protective services (CPS). At least two years must have passed, and the child cannot have been adopted or be the subject of an adoption agreement. Contact our law firm to learn if you are eligible.
The Myths Around Child Support In the Termination of Parental Rights
When a non-custodial parent's parental rights are terminated, they are no longer required to pay child support. For a judge deciding on the termination of parental rights, that's a red flag. In cases of feuding spouses where money is the sticking point, the court may look dubiously at requests from either side to terminate parental rights.
A Legal Loophole to End Child Support?
Could someone voluntarily terminate their own parental rights in order to get out of paying child support? This looks like an inviting legal loophole, and it was in the past. Today, judges rule in the child's best interests and rarely see eliminating financial support as a plus. In nearly all cases, a judge can use their judicial discretion to deny termination of parental rights, even when done voluntarily.
A Tactic to Erase a Deadbeat Partner?
A parent might be ready to wash their hands of a non-custodial parent who has stopped visitation and is behind on child support payments. While terminating their parental rights seems like a solution, the courts take a longer view. Even if the custodial parent doesn't need child support or isn't receiving it, unexpected events in the future could make extra income crucial to your child's financial well-being. Texas courts usually do not think it's in a child's best interests to eliminate financial support or child custody.
Client-Centered Legal Representation
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Donna represented our family for a parental termination and step parent adoption. Her entire team did a great job over the 2 year process. I thought Donna's strategy and no nonsense approach to be exactly what we needed. Finding a parent who hides can typically be tough but she knew the legal way to navigate around it. At the end, my daughter was adopted by the man who is truly her dad. Seriously, an excellent legal team!View on Google