Fathers’ Rights. Termination of Parental Rights

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In the USA, every father is entitled to certain rights and responsibilities with respect to their children (Arendell, 2005). As such, a father does not have to obtain a court order to enjoy his parental rights as they are already guaranteed in the constitution. Therefore, as a father and a parent an individual has a right to have access to the children, participate in parenting roles, have access to children’s records, have custody care, and decide where his children will reside. In return, the law requires fathers to be responsible for the support of their children, provide them with basic needs, offer them with appropriate medical care, and protect them from harm. It is a fact that most parents would like to spend an incredible amount of time with their children. However, In the event of a divorce children and parents might be subjected to long-term emotional and social consequences resulting from separation. In such situations, some mothers isolate their children from their fathers. By doing so, fathers are denied visitation, physical access to their children, and access to children’s school and medical records. Such mothers are after compromising fathers’ parental rights. As illustrated above, it is essential for both parents to be allowed to exercise their constitutional parental rights and responsibilities. However, in some instances it might seem necessary to sever all parental rights (Hertz, 2009). In this respect, this paper focuses on termination of fathers’ rights.

Grounds for termination of fathers rights

As a father and a parent, an individual cannot willingly end his parental rights and responsibilities. For instance, a father cannot voluntarily stop meeting the child’s financial needs, care, and protection. Therefore, a father is mandated to play his role as a parent unless another man steps in to play his role through appropriate and legitimized adoption procedures. Similarly, a parent cannot lose his father’s rights until a court terminates his parental rights because of neglects or cases of child abuse.

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In the USA, courts would decide on whether a father deserves to be terminated from enjoying his parental rights when someone requests it to do so (Curry, 2005). As such, the children’s mothers, state agencies, attorneys, grandparents, and other interested parties are free to file petition cases when it seems necessary. For these petition to be successful, the petitioners need to have appropriate reasons for their petition (Hertz, 2009). Usually, the reasons for the petition presented before the courts are neglect, abuse, incarceration, drug-induced incapacity of a father, and mental incapacity. Equally, a father’s parental rights might be terminated from him if he is convicted of a serious crime committed against a family member or a child. The above reasons for parental rights termination must be proved valid by a court for the petition to be successful.

For the involved fathers, the appropriate way to defend against such petitions is to prove to the courts that the termination of an individual’s parental rights will severely damaged the relationship between the father and the children and that the move will be against the best interests of the children (Hertz, 2009). If the father has been accused of inappropriate behavior, he will be required by courts to prove beyond doubt that he has taken corrective actions to correct his condition.

Exceptions

Despite the fact that the US family courts require proceedings to be initiated when a petition to terminate a specific father’s parental rights is filed, roughly 28 states have stipulated some conditions under which exceptions are upheld (Hertz, 2009). These conditions occur when the custody of the children has been transferred to a relative and when the state has identified compelling reasons that prove that termination of the parental rights would be against the best interests of the children. Similarly, the above exceptions hold when the involved father has not been provided with appropriate services aimed at reunifying him with the children and the family members.

Effects of termination

In case termination petition becomes successful, parental rights of the involved father will be compromised unlike the mother’s parental rights (Crowley, 2008). Similarly, the children’s relationship with their father will be severely damaged. Based on these consequences, I believe that family courts should come up with appropriate rulings to ensure that their judgments are passed based on the children’s best interests. Therefore, if courts adopt the above approach they would maximize the opportunity for all parents to contribute to the raising, supporting, and financing their children in their daily needs. Through this approach, the courts will ensure that both parents work with the aim of enhancing their children’s interests rather than on their selfish gains. By adjudicating parental rights termination cases based on the children’s best interests, courts require petitioners to demonstrate why their petition is best for the children. Through this, petitioners will be required by the courts to prove that the intended initiative has been done in good faith and never to hurt the children or the ex-spouse.

References

Arendell, T. (2005). Fathers & divorce. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Crowley, J. E. (2008). Defiant dads: fathers’ rights activists in America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

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Curry, C. (2005). Termination of Parental Rights and Adoption Procedures. Family Law Journal, 32(1), 1-18.

Hertz, H. (2009). Grounds For Involuntary Termination Of Parental Rights. Child Welfare. Web.

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