Termination of Paternal Rights and Georgia Family Law
Family law courts often grant or terminate the rights of parents. When it comes to fathers and paternal rights, court judges terminate their rights when it’s in the best interests of the child.
There are many reasons why a father would lose his parental rights, including the failure to pay child support or any misconduct or abuse. But when those rights are terminated, a father can no longer have custody of the child or visitation rights.
Understanding paternal rights and their termination under Georgia state laws helps fathers protect the well-being of their families so they look after the needs of their children.
Petition to Terminate Paternal Rights in Georgia
In the state of Georgia, a petition can be filed by anyone seeking termination of a father’s paternal rights. This includes the child’s mother and other family members.
The legal proceedings involved in the termination of paternal rights are typically held in juvenile courts with the exception of those that are part of the adoption process.
Children may also submit evidence of the father’s inability to provide adequate parental care. Although it’s not required, a child may be included in signing the petition seeking for termination of paternal rights.
The child may provide testimony in the family law courts in Georgia. But family law court judges keep the well-being of the child in mind when determining if they should testify in the courtroom or through another channel.
Reasons for Termination of Paternal Rights
Every state has its own laws overseeing the termination of parental rights. Fathers can lose their rights as a parent in cases where the child has been abandoned, abused, or neglected.
If the father has a history of mental illness or chronic drug or alcohol abuse, the courts may terminate his rights and responsibilities to his child. Fathers who fail to remain in contact with their children or provide financial support can also have their paternal rights terminated in Georgia.
Court judges may terminate a father’s rights if he’s been convicted of felonies or any violent crimes against family members. He may also lose his paternal rights if he is in prison and the child has entered the foster care system.
Absent Fathers and Paternal Rights
Absent parents face the risk of losing their parental rights. Although unmarried fathers can register as the child’s father in order to maintain his paternal rights, he may lose those rights if he fails to provide child support.
The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) in Georgia can take steps to locate an absent father for the purpose of securing child support. Other agencies such as the Georgia Department of Revenue may also be involved in locating absent fathers for child support.
When an absent father loses his paternal rights, he no longer has any legal rights or relationship to the child. Although a father who has lost his paternal rights is no longer obligated to pay child support, he may still be held liable for child support previously owed.
Any absent father who’s failed to pay child support or maintain communication with their child is viewed by the state of Georgia as having abandoned his child. But he can submit a legal defense against any claim of abandonment in Georgia.
Paternal rights may not be reinstated once they’ve been terminated. But there are some cases in which the father may petition the courts to grant him his paternal rights.
This is especially common in cases where a child is awaiting placement into a permanent foster home. But the father must demonstrate to family law courts that he is able to provide the care the child needs in a safe home.
Terminating paternal rights protects the well-being of children and their families. Both parents have fundamental rights when it comes to raising and making decisions for their children.
But a father’s paternal rights may be taken away if they’re unable to provide the support the child needs or when it’s in the best interests of the child.
Consulting with a family law attorney in Georgia helps you understand paternal rights and the laws that oversee the termination of those rights.