In Pennsylvania parental rights can be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily. A voluntary termination of parental rights occurs when the parent in question wants to terminate their own rights to their child. An involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when the court makes the decision and terminates a parent’s rights. There is a long list of factors the court will weigh and consider in deciding whether to terminate a parent’s rights. Whether voluntary or involuntary, this process is not quick. A parent will not lose the rights to their child unless the court formally terminates those rights. Having your parental rights terminated is not the same as not having legal custody of the child.
In answering the question above, the state of Pennsylvania views it as being in the child’s best interest to have two parents. Therefore, courts in this state are extremely hesitant to terminate a parent’s rights and will only do so under a very limited set of circumstances. Just because a parent has not been involved in a child’s life or has not paid any child support, is not enough for a court to terminate the other parent’s rights to that child.
If you’re a step parent married to one of the parents of a child and wish to adopt that child (step parent adoption), a termination of the parental rights may be appropriate for the uninvolved parent. In Pennsylvania courts do allow this type of involuntary termination of parental rights to occur. Contact our team of experienced family law attorneys to discuss step parent adoptions and termination of parental rights further. It would be our pleasure to assist you with your family law needs.