As is true in other states, in Georgia, the courts favor two-parent families. The termination of parental rights is a legal and permanent severance of the parent/child relationship, and Georgia law takes these cases seriously. Parents can lose their rights for only a few reasons, and only if statutory procedures are followed exactly. There is more information in this article on parental rights termination in Georgia.
Notice and Procedural Requirements
Termination proceedings begin when a family member or someone else acquainted with the case files a petition in juvenile court. State juvenile courts have jurisdiction over all termination cases, except where an adoption is occurring. Because these cases are sensitive in nature, the juvenile court must endorse and verify petitions before they are filed.
Once the petition is filed, the juvenile court chooses an attorney to represent the child. Unlike in a civil case, the court also appoints a paternity lawyer for indigent parents. Georgia laws recognize the seriousness of terminating a parent’s rights, and ensuring adequate representation for all parties helps the court ensure that all the facts are presented.
Reasons to Terminate a Parent’s Rights
Under Georgia statutes, the court can only take away a parent’s rights in the following circumstances.
* The parent voluntarily gave the child up
* The parent refused compliance with a child support order for a year or more
* Parental abandonment
* The parent has murdered the other parent
Parental Inability and Misconduct
Georgia courts find parental inability and misconduct only if four elements are met. The child must be deprived, and the parent must have failed to control or care for the child. The cause for the deprivation must be unsolvable or likely to continue, and the deprivation must have caused the child emotional, mental or physical harm.
The Effects of Parental Rights Termination
A termination order forever strips a parent of their obligations and rights to the child. Once the state of Georgia terminates parental rights, the court has to decide where the child will live. Courts favor placement with other relatives, but children can be placed in foster homes or with the Department of Human Services. As with other parts of Georgia family law, a paternity lawyer with Dsternlieblaw.com will tell you that the child’s best interests are a primary concern.
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