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Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Florida


Being a parent is one of, if not the, biggest responsibility a person can take on in their lifetime. However, some situations arise where it is necessary to terminate a person’s parental responsibilities over a child. This can occur for many reasons, from the negative, such as a parent being an unfit mother or father, to the uplifting, like the desire of a stepparent to adopt their stepchild. To learn more about terminating a parent’s rights to their child, call or contact the expert in Florida family law at the office of Blair H. Chan, III, in Tampa today.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Florida law allows for a number of situations where a parent’s rights can be terminated. The easiest and most amicable way to terminate parental rights is through a voluntary termination. This occurs when the parent whose rights are to be terminated agrees to the termination and signs a written surrender of their rights over the child. A biological parent may choose to voluntarily terminate their rights to end the obligation to pay child support or to allow a stepparent to adopt the child.

Other Statutory Grounds to Terminate Parental Rights

In addition to voluntary termination, Florida provides eleven other statutory grounds for terminating parental rights. It is important to note that Florida courts do not take the termination of parental rights lightly and typically only agree to terminating rights in the most serious circumstances. Grounds for terminating parental rights in Florida include the following:

  • Abandonment, when the identity or location of the parent or parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent search within 60 days.
  • When the parent engages in conduct toward the child or toward other children that threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child
  • When the parent of a child is incarcerated and either will constitute a significant portion of the child’s minority or the incarcerated parent has been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal, a habitual violent felony offender, or a sexual predator
  • When a child has been adjudicated dependent, a case plan has been filed with the court, and the child continues to be abused, neglected, or abandoned by the parent or the parent materially breached the case plan
  • The parent engaged in egregious conduct or knowingly failed to prevent egregious conduct that threatens the life, safety, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child or the child’s sibling
  • The parent subjected the child or another child to aggravated child abuse, sexual battery or sexual abuse, or chronic abuse
  • The parent committed the murder, manslaughter, aiding or abetting the murder, or conspiracy or solicitation to murder the other parent or another child, or a felony battery that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child
  • The parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent has a history of extensive, abusive, and chronic use of alcohol or a controlled substance which renders them incapable of caring for the child, and have refused or failed to complete available treatment
  • A test administered at birth that indicated that the child’s blood, urine, or meconium contained any amount of alcohol or a controlled substance or metabolites of such substances and the biological mother of the child is the biological mother of at least one other child who was adjudicated dependent due to exposure to a controlled substance or alcohol
  • On three or more occasions the child or another child of the parent or parents has been placed in out-of-home care, and the conditions that led to the child’s out-of-home placement were caused by the parent
  • The court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the child was conceived as a result of an act of sexual battery
  • The parent is convicted of an offense that requires the parent to register as a sexual predator

Call or Contact the Office

To learn more, call or contact the office of Blair H. Chan, III, today. A Tampa family lawyer at our office can help you today.




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