When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated in Florida?
In Florida, there is a strong legal preference in favor of both parents having a role in a child’s life.
This means that, whenever reasonably possible, Florida courts prefer to award shared responsibility in an child custody case. Of course, that is only a general rule and it will not hold in every situation. Under Florida law, family law courts must put the best interests of the child above all other factors. There will certainly be times where it is clearly better for the child if one parent is awarded sole custody. Indeed, there will even be times that a court will need to strip one, or both, of a child’s parents of their parental rights. While Florida courts are hesitant to take this drastic action, it does happen. Here, we outline four circumstances in which parental rights may be terminated under Florida law.
- Voluntary Surrender
In order to voluntary surrender parental rights, properly filled out written documentation must be submitted. Most often, voluntary surrender happens when a parent(s) decides to place a child up for adoption. In certain cases, adoption is the right choice for all parties involved. Still, it should be noted that voluntary surrendering parental rights is legally binding and it should only be done after careful consideration has been made. When signing a voluntary surrender document, a parent should assume that they will never have their parental rights restored.
A person can also lose parental rights through the act of abandonment. This is an informal form of voluntary surrender. If a parent cannot be located for a period of longer than 60 days, a Florida court may decide to strip away their parental rights and award those rights to another party. In this circumstance, courts have considerable discretion to decide what is in the best interests of the child.
- Safety Threats
Parental rights can be terminated if their has been a threat to the health or safety of a child. Often, threats involve actual or prospective physical abuse, but psychological trauma can qualify as well. Once again, courts do not want to terminate parental rights, but are willing to do so if the circumstances call for it.
- Egregious Conduct
Similarly, it is also possible for a parent to lose rights if they have engaged in ‘egregious’ conduct. This extends past making any type of direct safety threat and it can also include acts of general negligence. Further, a Florida court may terminate parental rights to all of a parent’s children for egregious conduct related to any one specific child.
Do You Need Family Law Assistance in Central Florida?
We can help. At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our team has experience handling a wide variety of Florida family law cases, including issues of parental termination. If you have any questions about parental termination, whether your rights are facing termination or you are consider trying to get parental rights taken away from another party, please call us today at (407) 521-7171 to set up a confidential review of your case. Our firm is located in Orlando and we serve families throughout the region, including in University Park, Apopka, Maitland and Alafaya.