Termination of Parental Rights

  • What is Termination of Parental Rights?
    A parent has a constitutionally protected civil right to the custody, control and care of his or her children. When a parent abandons those responsibilities, the court may take the permanent and irreversible legal action of terminating that parent’s relationship with his or her children. It is considered to be the most extreme legal action in family law.
  • Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights
    In North Carolina, there are several grounds for terminating parental rights. Read more to learn about each one.
  • Who May Petition for Termination of Parental Rights?
    Usually a petition to terminate parental rights is filed by a parent whose new spouse wishes to adopt the parent’s child from a previous relationship, or by the Department of Social Services (DSS) when a child has been abused or neglected.
  • The Procedure for Terminating Parental Rights
    The person who seeks termination of another’s parental rights must file a petition to the court stating grounds. The petition must also establish that termination of parental rights will be in the best interests of the child.
  • The Effects of Losing Parental Rights
    If the petition to terminate parental rights succeeds, the legal relationship between the parent and child ends permanently. Consequently, the parent’s rights and obligations to the child are terminated. All rights of inheritance are extinguished. All duty of support is extinguished. The parent has the same legal status as a stranger to the child, cannot visit or contact the child, and loses any input as to the child’s life or daily living.