Termination of Parental Rights in Georgia

The law and courts in general favor keeping families together and parents with their children, and only sparingly grants termination of parental rights. These rights may only be terminated pursuant to a proceeding after someone files a petition for termination of those rights in juvenile court and the court ensures that both the child and parent are adequately represented, including assigning an attorney to the child. A hearing is conducted by a judge within 90 days after the petition is filed. Throughout the process, Georgia courts are primarily concerned with the best interest of the child.

Legal Requirements

State law considers the following factors as grounds for termination of parental rights:

  • Clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability;
  • Whether termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child; and
  • The physical, mental, emotional, and moral condition and needs of the child, including the need for a secure and stable home.

The court may terminate parental rights of a parent if:

  • Written consent of the parent has been given
  • The parent has wantonly and willfully failed to comply with a child support order for a year or more;
  • The parent has abandoned the child;
  • The parent has been convicted of murdering the child’s other parent; or
  • The court finds parental misconduct or inability by finding that the child is deprived; the parent has caused this deprivation; it is not likely to be remedied; and if it continues, it will cause serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to the child.
Parental Misconduct or Inability

In determining whether the child is without proper parental care and control, the court considers:

  • Whether the parent’s physical, mental, or emotional health is medically deficient as to render the parent unable to provide adequately for the physical, mental, emotional, or moral condition and needs of the child;
  • Excessive use or historic abuse of liquor or drugs;
  • Conviction of a felony and imprisonment which affects the parent-child relationship;
  • Egregious conduct of the parent towards the child or another child that is physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive;
  • Physical, mental, or emotional neglect of the child; or
  • Injury or death of a sibling from parental abuse or neglect.

If the child is not in custody of the parent, the court will also look at whether the parent has failed to do the following for one year or longer

  • Develop and maintain a parental bond;
  • Provide for the care and support of the child; or
  • Comply with a court ordered plan designed to reunite the child with parent.
  • Seek Help From Leading Family Law Attorneys

If you are dealing with a parental rights issue, Edwards & Associates can help. Our Atlanta attorneys have served Georgia for more than a decade, and we are please to put our experience to work for you. Call (404) 238-7808 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.