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Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. Blog

Friday, June 22, 2018

What Do I Need to Do to Terminate Parental Rights Prior To Adoption?

When you are adopting a child in Pennsylvania, you must terminate the parental rights of the birth parents before you can proceed with the adoption. This step must be done regardless of whether the adoption is private or public. It is also required for family and non-family adoptions. Parental rights may be terminated voluntarily or involuntarily. Once the parental rights have been terminated, the adoptive parents are listed on the child’s birth certificate as the birth parents. Our Pennsylvania adoption lawyers can help you file the appropriate motions and paperwork to terminate parental rights for a Pennsylvania adoption.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

In most cases, a judge will not terminate parental rights unless there is an adoption case in progress.  Only in rare circumstances can the parental rights be terminated for a child when there is no adoptive parent because the state does not have a policy of leaving a child parentless and children deserve to have the financial support of their parents.

Parents who want to terminate their parental rights voluntarily can sign a consent to adoption form. The biological father can sign the form at any time, but the biological mother must wait a minimum of 72 hours before signing the form. After a 30-day revocation period, the adoption agency or Pennsylvania adoption lawyer can file a petition to confirm the consent to adoption.

The parents may also petition the court to terminate parental rights. This option is typically used when a step-parent or other family member is adopting the child. A voluntary relinquishment hearing is scheduled for the parents to appear to confirm that they wish to terminate their parental rights voluntarily.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

In some cases, it may be necessary to request that the court grant a request for involuntary termination of parental rights. An involuntary termination of parental rights may be used by child services or in an adoption case. There are nine grounds under which a court may grant a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights:

  • The parents have not performed parental duties for at least six months before the filing of the petition to terminate rights;

  • Continued and repeated abuse, incapacity, or neglect that cannot or will not be remedied;

  • The man is not the natural father;

  • The parent has abandoned the child for at least three months, and the child is in the custody of a state agency;

  • The child was removed from the parent by the court, or the parent voluntarily relinquished possession of the child to a state agency and the reasons for the removal continue to exist and are not likely to be remedied;

  • A father knows about the birth of a child, but does not live with the mother, has not married the mother, has not provided substantial financial support for the child, and has not attempted to make reasonable efforts to contact the child for four months preceding the filing of the petition;

  • The parent is the father of the child, and the child was conceived because of incest or rape;

  • The child was removed from the parent at least 12 months ago, the conditions that led to the removal continue, and the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child; or,

  • The parent was convicted of, attempted to commit, or conspired to commit aggravated assault, criminal homicide, or a comparable crime and the victim was the parent’s child.

Contact Our Pennsylvania Adoption Lawyers if You Have Questions

If you are seeking to terminate parental rights, our Pennsylvania adoption lawyers can help you determine the best way to accomplish the termination so that you can proceed with the adoption. Contact us today to request a consultation. We represent parties in private and public adoptions.


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