Voluntary vs. Involuntary Termination of Paternal Rights in Georgia
The termination of paternal rights prevents fathers from participating in a meaningful way in the welfare and upbringing of their children.
When a father loses or gives up his paternal rights, he cannot have physical or legal custody of the child and can no longer make decisions related to the child’s educational, health, and developmental needs.
Paternal rights may be terminated on a voluntary or involuntary basis. Understanding the difference between the two and the laws related to paternal rights in Georgia helps fathers make decisions that protect the well-being of their families.
The Rights of Parents in Georgia
Parents make decisions that children are unable to make for themselves. All parents must act in the best interests of children when determining how the child will be raised and cared for.
Parents decide on important medical issues related to the child. They can choose the religious and schooling practices used in the home.
The rights of parents let them raise their children according to their own preferences as long as they comply with the laws.
But those rights can be terminated. In some cases parents may choose to give up their rights. So it’s important for fathers to understand how to protect their paternal rights and ensure that the best interests of the child are met.
Voluntary Termination of Paternal Rights
Fathers may volunteer to give up their paternal rights under Georgia state law, and it may be in the child’s best interest to terminate his rights as a parent.
This is common in cases where the child is being given up for adoption. Parental rights are then granted to the adoptive parents so they can provide the care the child needs.
In other cases, a father may not want to take on the responsibilities and legal obligations that come with having a child. Fathers may give up their paternal rights, but they may need to appear before a court judge.
Parental rights aren’t automatically terminated when children are placed in to foster care. This allows both parents to take the steps necessary in showing family law courts that they can properly care for the child.
Children are born with a right to parental care. So voluntary termination of parental rights can be more complex than involuntary termination. A child must have the financial resources from both parents whenever possible.
So it’s more difficult to relinquish your rights as a parent on a voluntary basis. But when voluntary termination is granted, the father no longer has any rights or responsibilities to the child.
Involuntary Termination of Paternal Rights
A father may lose his paternal rights involuntarily. Family law courts must often have the final say in whether either parent has custody, visitation, and other rights to a child.
Reasons for terminating a father’s paternal rights include child neglect, abandonment, and abuse. Drug or alcohol abuse and criminal convictions may cause fathers to lose their rights to their children.
Parents must be able to support the financial, physical, and emotional needs of a child. But even in these cases, there’s a legal process used to terminate paternal rights.
Only in cases where the child has been abandoned as an infant or the father has caused physical harm to the child can he automatically lose his rights as a parent.
Involuntary termination of paternal rights can occur if the father has a mental illness or has previously lost his rights to another child.
If children are cared for by social services, the state may request to have the parental rights terminated. Parents who fail to remain in contact with the child or provide support may also lose their rights.
Voluntary and involuntary termination of paternal rights are unique to the circumstances of each case. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to protect your paternal rights in a Georgia court of law.
Knowing your rights and having the legal resources you need helps fathers protect the well-being of their families and provide the support needed to look after their children.