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How can parental rights be terminated in Pennsylvania?

If you were to ask most in Cranberry Township what is the one job that you cannot be fired from, most might likely say “parent.” Yet that is not always the case. There are indeed scenarios where state officials may determine that you are unfit to retain parental authority over your child. Then there are also cases where you may question the fitness of your children’s other parent. In both cases, the state has established criteria that allow for parental rights to be terminated.

Under certain circumstances, you (or your children’s other parent) might be willing to relinquish your rights voluntarily. This typically happens in cases of adoption, or where tension is so great between you and your ex-spouse that one of you may be willing to do anything to get the other out of their lives. Yet what about those cases where you (or your children’s other parent) parent may not want to give your parental authority.

If you want to get your children’s other parent’s rights terminated, The Office of Children & Families in the Courts says that Pennsylvania law allows you to petition for such an action if, for a period of six months, they have failed to fulfill their parental duties or their actions have implied that they have given up their parental claim. The same is true if incapacity or substance abuse makes them unfit to fulfill parental responsibilities. You can also petition to end their rights if they are the presumptive (but not proven) father of your children, or they have been convicted of certain criminal offenses.

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, the state can look to terminate your parental rights if your children have been taken away from you, and you fail to comply to the requirements imposed to get them back.