What You Must Know About the Parental Rights of Absent Parents

a woman holding her daughterEvery biological parent has the legal right and responsibility to make medical and legal decisions for their child. Regardless of the parent’s level of involvement in the life of the child, the law still recognizes these rights and responsibilities. But what if the parent is an absentee parent or one that seems to have abandoned their child? A majority of states consider a parent “absent” when they haven’t had communication with their child in four months or more.

In cases like this, the parent who cares for the child would have to raise their child alone. The law, however, doesn’t automatically terminate an absent parent’s parental rights just because of the parent’s absence.

Parental Rights Termination

Aside from having parental rights, Law Office of Dorene A. Kuffer and other family law attorneys in Santa Fe noted that all parents need to perform specific duties under the law. These include the duty to care and provide for their child. If absent parents don’t perform these duties (for four months at least), the parent who takes care of the child could request that the court terminate the absent parent’s rights.

However, for the court to terminate the parental rights of an absent parent, the parent/caretaker should clearly prove that the parent:

  • Abandoned their child
  • Abused or neglected their child
  • Is unfit or incapable of caring for their child
  • Has abused the child’s other parent/caretaker
  • Isn’t really the child’s biological parent

Although abandonment is usually the most common reason for a parent to request termination, a majority of courts approach this possibility cautiously. Courts usually respond positively to termination requests if a stepparent is planning to adopt the child since this would ensure that the child would at least have two legal parents to care for them.

Requesting for the termination of an absent parent’s parental rights isn’t that simple. It could even be complex, particularly if you can’t locate the absent parent. You would need evidence to support your request to clearly demonstrate that the absent parent’s right should be terminated. Bearing this in mind, seek help from an experienced family lawyer to help ensure that you obtain the best possible outcome.