Being served with a termination of parental rights petition is the first step to a complicated process in the state of Florida. A termination of parental rights petition must include facts alleging that at least one of the grounds listed in F.S. 38.806 has been met and that granting the petition would be in the manifest best interests of the child or children as listed in F.S. 39.810. No answer to the petition is required, but if you answer, the petitioner will need the court’s approval to amend their petition later.
Grounds for termination are as listed:
(1) Voluntary surrender: When you have signed a written surrender of their parental rights to the child(ren)
(2) Abandonment as defined in F.S. 39.01(1)
(3) When you engage in conduct toward a child or toward other children that demonstrates that your continuing involvement in the parent-child relationship threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child irrespective of the provision of services, such as a case plan from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).
(4) When you are incarcerated and:
(a) the period of incarceration will constitute a significant portion of the child’s minority; or
(b) you have been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal, a habitual violent felony offender, or a sexual predator, or has been convicted of first degree or second degree murder or a capital, life, or first degree felony sexual battery; or
(c) the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that continuing the parental relationship would be harmful to the child.
(5) A child has been adjudicated dependent, a case plan has been filed with the court, and you have not substantially complied with the case plan for 12 months after shelter care or adjudication of dependency or you have materially breached the case plan or you have failed to complete a case plan and the child has been in DCF custody for 12 of the last 22 months.
(6) You engaged in egregious conduct or had the opportunity to prevent and knowingly failed to prevent egregious conduct that threatens the life, safety, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child or a child’s sibling.
(7) You have subjected the child or another child to aggravated child abuse, sexual battery, or sexual abuse, or chronic abuse.
(8) You have committed murder, manslaughter, aiding or abetting the murder, or conspiracy to murder the other parent or another child, or a felony battery that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child.
(9) You have had your parental rights to a sibling of the child terminated involuntarily.
(10) Chronic use of alcohol or a controlled substance which renders you incapable of caring for the child and you have refused or failed to complete available treatment for a three year period prior.
(11) You have a child born positive for alcohol or a controlled substance and have had at least one other child adjudicated dependent due to alcohol or a controlled substance exposure with the opportunity to participate in treatment.
(12) Your child has been removed to an out-of-home placement on three or more occasions.
(13) Your child was conceived as a result of an act of sexual battery
(14) You are convicted of an offense that requires you to register as a sexual predator.
Termination of parental rights is a complicated process and you need an experienced Jacksonville family lawyer to represent you throughout. It can affect your children permanently, so contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC for assistance.