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Termination of Parental Rights in PA

In Pennsylvania adoption situations, it is important to keep in mind that parental rights must first be terminated before you can proceed with an adoption. There are two ways of terminating parental rights– voluntary and involuntary. No matter the circumstances, it is highly advisable to have legal counsel during the termination proceedings, particularly if the biological parents are contesting the adoption.

If you are going through the adoption process, the dedicated and experienced Pittsburgh adoption lawyers at Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC can assist you with filing a petition to terminate parental rights and will help you navigate the complex legal issues that can arise during termination proceedings.

Ensure your adoption goes as smoothly as possible by calling (412) 471-5100 for a consultation with attorney Anthony Piccirilli.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

There are two procedures for voluntarily terminating parental rights; alternative procedure for relinquishment and voluntary relinquishment. The alternative procedure process allows for biological parents to relinquish their parental rights by executing a Consent to Adoption. The biological father can sign a consent to adoption form at any time, but biological mothers must wait at least 72 hours after birth.

Once the 30-day revocation period has closed, the intermediary (typically an adoption agency) must file a petition to confirm consent to adoption and a hearing will be scheduled. Birth parents generally do not have to attend petition to confirm consent hearings.

Biological parents can also petition the court to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights either to an adoption agency or the adult(s) intending to adopt the child. The biological parents must attend a voluntary relinquishment hearing, which will generally be held 35-40 days after the consent form has been filed.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

A petition for involuntary termination of parental rights is usually filed because one or both of the biological parents refuse to relinquish their parental rights, they are contesting the adoption, or they have not been fulfilling their parental duties. Involuntary termination of parental rights is usually sought by DHS and after attempts toward reunification have been unsuccessful.

Under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511, there are numerous grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. Some of the most commonly cited grounds include:

  • The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the child to be without essential parental care, control or subsistence necessary for his physical or mental well-being and the conditions and causes of the incapacity, abuse, neglect or refusal cannot or will not be remedied by the parent.
  • The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim to a child or has refused or failed to perform parental duties.
  • The child has been removed from the care of the parent by the court or under a voluntary agreement with an agency for a period of at least six months, the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child continue to exist, the parent cannot or will not remedy those conditions within a reasonable period of time, the services or assistance reasonably available to the parent are not likely to remedy the conditions which led to the removal or placement of the child within a reasonable period of time and termination of the parental rights would best serve the needs and welfare of the child.

The court must also consider whether terminating parental rights is in the best interests of the child, if a bond exists between the biological parent and child, and the effect that the proposed termination would have on the child.

What Happens Once Parental Rights are Terminated?

Parental rights are not terminated until the court issues a decree of termination of parental rights. A decree of termination of parental rights has the following effects:

  • Birth parents lose the right to contest the adoption
  • Grants custody to the petitioner, which is usually the adoption agency or the person seeking to adopt the child

Contact Our Pittsburgh Adoption Lawyers Today for Help

At Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC, our Pittsburgh adoption attorneys can explain how the termination of parental rights process works and will be by your side throughout your journey toward adopting a child. Our goal is to make the adoption process as seamless as possible by providing compassionate and experienced legal representation.

Call us today at (412) 471-5100 to schedule a consultation to discuss your options.