Court Explains Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Florida

The Florida courts generally try to maintain the relationship between parents and their children. They will not do so to the detriment of a child, however, and if they find that a parent engages in conduct that harms a child, they may sever the parent’s rights. Recently, a Florida court discussed the grounds for terminating parental rights in a case in which the mother argued the trial court erred in determining that she should no longer be permitted to parent her children. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is vital to retain a skilled Florida child custody lawyer attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother had three minor children. The parental rights of the father, who was the biological parent of the two younger children, were terminated after he sexually abused the oldest child. Additionally, the trial court entered an injunction prohibiting the father from coming within 500 feet of the home where the mother lived with the children or having any contact with the children.

Allegedly, the oldest daughter awoke one night to find the father assaulting the mother. When she attempted to stop the assault, the father choked and hit her. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) later learned that the father routinely visited the residence, in violation of the court order. DCF then moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights on the grounds that she engaged in egregious conduct. During an adjudicatory hearing, the mother admitted she never ended her relationship with the father, and the evidence demonstrated he was regularly within the home. The court terminated the mother’s rights, and she appealed.

Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights in Florida

Florida law permits the termination of parental rights when a parent participates in egregious conduct or has the chance and capability to prevent egregious conduct that endangers the safety, life, or physical or emotional health of a child but fails to do so. The law defines egregious conduct as any behavior that is flagrant, outrageous, or deplorable under a normal standard or acts that are considered abandonment, abuse, or neglect.

The court explained that proof of a connection between egregious conduct towards a child and the possible harm to the child’s brother or sister is not required in order for parental rights to be terminated. In the subject case, the court was not persuaded by the mother’s argument that her rights were terminated due to a single incident, noting that she engaged in a course of conduct that could be considered egregious. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Capable Miami Attorney

Parenting a child is a privilege, not a right, and if the courts deem it necessary, they can sever the parent-child relationship. If you have questions regarding parental rights or custody, it is smart to consult an attorney to discuss your options. The capable Miami family law attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., can craft compelling arguments on your behalf to help you seek the best possible outcome under the facts of your case. Our office is located in Aventura, and we frequently aid people in custody disputes in Miami. You can reach us through our form online or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.