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Termination of Parental Rights in Pennsylvania


The issue of parental rights can arise in adoptions, divorces, and even marriages where one spouse is bringing in a child from a prior marriage or relationship. Though birth parents typically have parental rights over the child, parental rights can be terminated for a variety of reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily. If you have a question about your parental rights over a child or the parental rights of a spouse or ex-spouse over a child, contact our experienced parental rights attorneys today to speak in confidence with a legal professional about your rights.

Voluntary Termination

Parental rights can be voluntarily terminated by either parent. There are a number of reasons a parent may wish to terminate his or her parental rights, including the following:

  • The parent is not involved in the child’s life, or
  • Someone else has been acting as the child’s parent and now wants to adopt the child

Absent the above conditions, voluntary termination of parental rights can be difficult. Children are seen as having the right to have a relationship with their parents, so most voluntary terminations are granted only in cases where another individual is adopting the child, so the child does not remain parentless.

Involuntary Termination

Parental rights can also be involuntarily terminated. In Pennsylvania, there are 11 grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights:

  1. The parent refuses or fails to perform parental duties for a period of at least six months,
  2. The parent is acting with incapacity, abuse, neglect, or refusal to take care of the child, and, as a result, the child is without essential care necessary for physical and mental well-being,
  3. The parent is not the biological father of the child,
  4. The child was found by an agency, and the parents of the child do not claim the child for three months,
  5. The child was removed from the care of the parent by the court for a period of six months or more, and the parent refuses to correct the unacceptable conduct that caused the child to be taken from him or her,
  6. The parent neglects his or her newborn child, whom the parent knows has been born,
  7. The child was born as a result of a rape or incest,
  8. The child was removed from the care of the parent by the court for a period of 12 months or more, and the parent has not yet corrected the unacceptable conduct that caused the child to be taken from him or her,
  9. The parent has been convicted of a crime such as criminal homicide, aggravated assault, a comparable crime in another jurisdiction, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above, in which the victim was the parent’s child,
  10. The parent has been found by the court to have sexually abused one of the parent’s children, or
  11. The parent has been required to register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania.

A petition for involuntary termination of parental rights may be filed by the other parent, an agency, an attorney representing the child, or an individual having custody of the child. An agency or representative of the child may also file a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights against both parents if there is evidence that both parents are unfit to be the child’s parent. A court will then evaluate a long list of factors in making a determination as to a parent’s parental rights.

Contact a Pennsylvania Parental Rights Attorney Today

If you are currently involved in a case involving termination of parental rights or feel the need to commence such suit, contact the experienced Pennsylvania parental rights attorneys at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today for your free consultation by calling 610-565-6100. Your consultation is strictly confidential, and our attorneys are compassionate and skilled legal professionals who are ready to provide an aggressive defense of your rights and wishes.




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