Parental rights and child custody are always contentious issues when a couple is separating or getting divorced. Who gets the kids, and on what terms, is a subject that nearly all divorcing couples grapple with. A parenting plan, whether mutually agreed on by both parents or directed by the court, can provide some level of certainty to parents and children alike. But what happens when there is a problem with the existing parenting plan?
Here are three grounds when parental rights can be terminated in Florida.
- When there is proof of abandonment or neglect
A parent can lose their parental rights when it is proved that they abandoned their child. Depending on the circumstances, a Florida court can strip a parent of their parental rights if they cannot be located for 60 days or more. Legally, abandonment happens when a parent makes no meaningful effort to establish a parent-child relationship, drops off the child at a relative, caregiver, or friend before vanishing, or fails to make a considerable contribution to the child’s needs.
- When the child’s safety is threatened
Divorce courts take children’s best interests very seriously. A threat to the child’s safety is reason enough to lose your parental rights. And safety threat does not necessarily mean a threat to the child’s physical health only. Any action, or inaction, that threatens the child’s physical, mental, and emotional health is sufficient enough to convince the court the parent in question poses a safety threat to the child. Egregious conduction like substance abuse in the presence of the child can also cost you parental rights as well as child custody.
- When the parent is jailed
Incarceration can also cost you parental rights. However, this applies under three specific circumstances.
- If the sentence is projected to last for most of the child’s juvenile years
- If the incarcerated parent is a habitual violent offender or a sexual predator
- If the court is convinced the child’s welfare could be harmed due to continued relationship with the incarcerated parent.
Losing parental rights is both a serious and tragic development. Understanding your parental rights and obligations under Florida laws can help you make decisions that align with your child’s best interests.