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Can I terminate my parental rights in Florida?

| Oct 15, 2021 | family law

With a few exemptions, a child’s biological parents automatically assume legal rights over their children. Some of these rights include the freedom to spend time with the child and decide who’s involved in their life. Parents also gain the ability to render decisions regarding their child’s welfare. 

But, being a parent also comes with its share of legal obligations. A parent has a range of responsibilities related to their child, including providing them with food, shelter, education, financial support and health care. Sometimes, a parent can decide to give up their legal rights and obligations to the child. This is known as a termination of parental rights. 

Here are common reasons why a parent may terminate their parental rights in Florida:

Voluntary surrender

Under Florida law, a parent may give up their own parental rights over their minor child when they voluntarily surrender them. To do this, the parent in question must start by voluntarily executing a written note of surrender giving custody of the child to the Florida Department of Children and Families. If accepted, a voluntary surrender may only be withdrawn if the court establishes that the surrender and consent documents were obtained fraudulently or under duress. 

Incarceration

Under certain circumstances, a parent may lose their parental rights if they are jailed. However, this only applies under three specific situations, namely if the:

  • Incarceration period is expected to constitute a significant portion of the minor’s life
  • Presiding judge deems the parent a violent career criminal, a sexual predator, a habitual offender or if they have been convicted of a violent crime like battery or murder
  • Court is convinced that the child’s continued relationship with the convicted parent will harm their wellbeing

Being a parent is one of the biggest responsibilities you will ever take on in your lifetime. While most parents perform this role perfectly well, it is not unusual to come across parents who do not live up to their responsibilities. In such instances, Florida law has provisions that allow for the termination of parental rights and responsibilities

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