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Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights In Florida


Being a parent is a tremendous responsibility. Whether you have become one through birth, adoption, or marriage, you have legally defined rights and obligations. In a variety of family court matters, the issue of either voluntarily or involuntarily terminating these rights may come into play. The following outlines the types of cases in which these actions may be relevant, as well as the grounds under which a parent’s rights can be terminated in Florida.

Reasons for Terminating Parental Rights In Florida

Termination of parental rights hearings are used in adoption proceedings and in other family court-related cases, such as child custody disputes, cases involving child abuse, emancipation of minor proceedings, and when issues of abuse or abandonment are involved.

The Child Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, advises that while each state has its own statutes for involuntarily terminating parental rights, all require clear and convincing evidence either that the parents are unfit and that terminating their rights is in the child’s best interests. Under Section 39.806 of the Florida State Statutes, there are twelve grounds or reasons for which parental rights can be involuntarily terminated:

  1. Abandonment, or when the location of the parent is unknown for a period of 60 days or more.
  2. Neglect, which is defined as being when the behavior of the parent threatens the child’s life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health.
  3. Incarceration, when it is determined that the parent will be in jail for most the child’s youth, when the parent is a violent career criminal, or when contact with the incarcerated parent is deemed not to be in the child’s best interest.
  4. Egregious conduct, which is shocking, immoral, and potentially dangerous conduct that the parent engages in or allows the child to be exposed to.
  5. Child abuse, assault, or sexual abuse, either committed by the parent or with their consent.
  6. Conspiracy to commit murder, manslaughter, or felony battery against the other parent or a sibling of the child.
  7. Chronic, extensive, and abusive drug or alcohol use.
  8. Positive test result indicating any amount of alcohol or a controlled substance in a newborn.
  9. Placement in out of home care three or more times due to conditions caused by the parent.
  10. Parents who perpetrate sexual assaults resulting in a child.
  11. Parents who have committed crimes requiring them to register as sexual predators.
  12. Parents whose rights to a sibling of a child have previously been terminated. 

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you are involved in a case in which you are either seeking a termination of parental rights or your own rights are in jeopardy, contact Hancock & Associates, P.A. today. Our Florida family law attorney provides the professional representation you need to protect your rights, and can advise you on the best course of action in your case.


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