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Many Pennsylvania families are headed by one if not two biological parents. However, families can take many forms for a variety of different reasons, including adoption. In order for many adoptions to take place, the existing parental rights of a biological parent may first need to be terminated.

While adoption is one reason why a court may take this step, there are other circumstances and situations that may call for a parent’s rights to be legally terminated. One of the most serious reasons is if the child has been a victim of chronic or severe physical abuse or has ever been sexually abused by a parent. Likewise, serious neglect or lack of consistent parental engagement are two other reasons a court may seek to end a parent’s legal rights to a child.

If a parent has given birth to a baby who is addicted to illegal drugs or a mother has had more than two children born with alcohol or drug-related health issues, parental rights may also be terminated. In situations where the sole parent is facing an extended prison sentence and the child would be adversely affected, the court may make this determination as well. Furthermore, long-term or severe emotional abuse can also warrant a court taking such actions.

There are other serious matters that can also lead to parental rights being terminated as well as cases when a parent may choose to voluntarily give up parental rights for the good of a child. If a parent is facing this situation, or if parental rights need to be terminated in order for an adoption to be finalized, the process may seem to be overwhelming. Pennsylvania residents who are unsure of how to either pursue this step or are hoping to avoid this court-ordered action may seek the guidance of an attorney who is well versed in this aspect of family law.

Source: FindLaw, “Checklist: Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights“, Accessed on Oct. 6, 2017