Courts in Minnesota may need to consider whether or not to terminate the parental rights of one parent.  These parental rights may come up during divorce proceedings or other cases before the courts, including criminal cases.  When a decision is made to terminate the parental rights of one or both parents, this means that all rights of the parents, including custody, right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, and parenting time are permanently severed.

A parent may choose to voluntarily terminate his or her own parental rights and may do so by simply giving written consent.  A judge must still approve the termination of rights however and a judge wants to make sure that the parental rights are terminated for good cause.  Courts are reluctant to remove parental rights since the termination is permanent and typically a judge will not do so unless adoption is imminent, such by a third party adoptive parent or other family members.

A court may also terminate a parent’s rights involuntarily under certain circumstances.  One of the common reasons parental rights are terminated is abandonment.  Child abandonment occurs when the parent deserts the child and intends to avoid obligations and duties as a parent.  One way the court measures abandonment is how long a child and parent have gone without contact.

Another reason a Minnesota court may involuntarily terminate parental rights is due to neglect of the child.  Typically the court looks at how long the neglect has been going on and how extreme the neglect is.  Additionally, the court looks at the efforts of social service agencies to help the parent avoid neglect.  This may include evidence such as how many visits were made to the home, what living conditions the child endured and how much progress the parent has made in improving the living situation for the child.

Parental rights may also be terminated due to failure to provide financial support to the child.  Typically this situation of financial neglect occurs when the parent has been ordered by the court to pay child support and does not do so.  However, if there is a good reason for a parent failing to make payments, such as financial struggles, the court will not terminate parental rights.

Additionally, Minnesota courts will terminate the rights of unfit parents and parents engaging in egregious harm to the child.  The burden of proof is high in these types of cases as courts do not like to take rights away from parents who wish to keep their parental rights.  The courts usually use a process to consider all the facts and give the parents time to prove their fitness to keep their parental rights.

Parental rights are a difficult struggle for Minnesota courts.  These situations are typically not resolved in a single hearing, but rather, require several meetings and quite a bit of evidence in order to make sure that the parental rights should be terminated of one or both parents.

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