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TERMINATION

Termination of the parent-child relationship in Texas extinguishes all legal rights and duties a parent has to and with a child. For almost all purposes, the parent is no longer affiliated with the child in any substantive way. Because termination is such a severe legal measure, the Texas Family Code establishes very specific reasons for involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship. Tex. Fam. Code Sec. 161.001 states:

"The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence:
  1. that the parent has:
    1. voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another not the parent and expressed an intent not to return;
    2. 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;
    3. voluntarily left the child alone or in the possession of another without providing adequate support for the child and remained away for a period of at least six months;
    4. knowingly placed or knowingly allowed the child to remain in conditions or surroundings which endanger the physical or emotional well-being of the child;
    5. 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;
    6. 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;
    7. 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;
    8. 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 birth;
    9. contumaciously refused to submit to a reasonable and lawful order of a court under Subchapter D, Chapter 261;
    10. been the major cause of:
      1. the failure of the child to be enrolled in school as required by the Education Code; or
      2. 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;
    11. executed before or after the suit is filed an unrevoked or irrevocable affidavit of relinquishment of parental rights as provided by this chapter;
    12. 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 [under certain enumerated Penal Code sections];
    13. 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;
    14. 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:
      1. the department or authorized agency has made reasonable efforts to return the child to the parent;
      2. the parent has not regularly visited or maintained significant contact with the child; and
      3. the parent has demonstrated an inability to provide the child with a safe environment;
    15. 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;
    16. 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:
      1. failed to complete a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program; or
      2. after completion of a court-ordered substance abuse treatment program, continued to abuse a controlled substance;
    17. knowingly engaged in criminal conduct that has resulted in the parent's:
      1. conviction of an offense; and
      2. confinement or imprisonment and inability to care for the child for not less than two years from the date of filing the petition;
    18. 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;
    19. 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
    20. been convicted of:
      1. the murder of the other parent of the child [under specific Penal Code sections]
      2. criminal attempt [under specific Penal Code sections];
      3. solicitation [under specific Penal Code sections]; and
  2. that termination is in the best interest of the child.
As seen in the above-listed Family Code provision, termination requires very specific findings and conclusions. As such, a party seeking termination of another parent must know it is sometimes difficult to obtain.

If you are facing termination of your rights as a parent or if you are seeking to terminate another parent's rights based on the above-listed Family Code provision, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.

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