As a parent, you probably have a lot of worries for your child. Whether you live with your child full-time or you do not have custody, you may have concerns about the court and the decision to terminate your rights. You may have cause for concern if you face any of these potential reasons for Virginia to terminate your parental rights.
The courts act in the best interests of the children they deal with. A judge who has a strong suspicion or evidence that you abuse your child can move to terminate your rights as a parent. Several types of abuse exist.
Physical abuse leads to bruises, scratches, burns, and other injuries. Physical abuse can cause temporary or permanent scars, and the court acknowledges that children should never have to live with a parent who abuses them.
Signs of emotional abuse include anxiety, fear, aggression, and depression. Children who are emotionally abused may also develop poor self-esteem and low confidence. Care-givers contribute to emotional abuse through mental punishments, withheld affection, and even alienation from another parent.
In addition to losing your right to parent, abuse of a child may also have criminal consequences. In a situation where you are charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney. Some family law attorneys also cover criminal cases.
Some situations may lead the court to believe you are not a fit parent. Perhaps you lack financial resources, have a drug dependency, or are otherwise unable to provide the basic needs for your child. These can all be reasons a court will terminate parental rights.
Instead of permanently terminating your parental rights, sometimes the courts may allow you to seek treatment or enter rehabilitation programs to prove you can be a dependable parent.
Accusations of Abandonment
If you intentionally leave your child, especially in a situation that puts your child’s health and well-being at risk, the court may terminate your rights. Child desertion often involves failure to provide financial resources, perhaps to the extent that the child is left without access to food or healthcare.
In Virginia, abandonment of 30 days is sufficient to sever an individual’s parental rights. Before it severs rights, the court does ensure a reasonable effort has been made to locate the child’s parent.
Neglect is not the same as abandonment, though they are closely related. Neglect often occurs without intention. For example, you may fail to provide your child with medication for an illness because you object to medical treatment. Neglect can also lead to weight loss, weight gain, poor school performance, poor hygiene, and poor health.
Even if you do not have negative intentions, if a court finds you guilty of neglect, you can lose parental rights.
Finally, the state may terminate your parental rights if somebody else is willing to adopt your child. For example, your child may live with the other parent permanently, and you live far away and have not visited your child in months. You may also have not paid child support in a year. In a case like the one described, your ex may have a valid case in court to have a new spouse adopt your child—especially if he or she provides financial support for your child and you have not been involved in the child’s life.
Your next step is to hire an attorney who understands Virginia’s laws. Generally, the courts prefer to keep families together. Your attorney will help the courts see that you being involved in your child’s life is in his or her best interest.
Thomas, Adams & Associates, provides legal solutions for your domestic and family-related issues. If you are afraid you might lose custody or visitation of your children, you need legal counsel. Call us today to consult with us about your case and the steps we can take to strengthen it.