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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

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1930 views   |   48   |   Last updated on Dec 01, 2023    Family Law

In Texas, parental rights can only be terminated through a court order.

Generally, one parent will petition the court to formally end the other parent’s relationship with the child. If a parent signs away their rights in an affidavit of relinquishment, the other parent can use it as evidence in their petition.

When considering parental rights cases, judges usually decide based on the “best interest of a child.” 

When can parental rights be terminated?

Termination of parent-child relationship laws are generally in Chapter 161 of the Texas Family Code. The sections below establish various grounds for termination of parental rights. Note that this is not a complete list:

Statute Title Grounds for Termination
Section 161.001 Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship Parental rights may be terminated based on a number of grounds. Includes provisions where the parent presents a danger to the child’s health and safety, abandons or fails to support the child within their ability, and willfully abandons the mother and child during pregnancy and after birth. 
Section 161.001(b)(1)(K) Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship Parental rights may be terminated if a parent has signed away their rights in an "affidavit of voluntary relinquishment of parental rights."
Section 161.002 Termination of the Rights of an Alleged Biological Father Parental rights may be terminated if an alleged father does not respond to the termination suit by filing an admission of paternity or a counterclaim for paternity, or if the alleged father cannot be identified, found, or served.
Section 161.003 Involuntary Termination: Inability to Care for Child Termination may be requested by DFPS when a mental condition results in the parent’s inability to properly care for the child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs.
Section 161.005 Termination When Parent is Petitioner A parent may apply to terminate their own rights in a case of mistaken biological paternity.
Section 161.006 Termination After Abortion Parental rights may be terminated if the child is born alive as a result of abortion.
Section 161.007 Termination When Pregnancy Results from Criminal Act Parental rights may be terminated when the child is conceived as a result of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or incest.
Section 162.016 Adoption Order Parental rights may be terminated in conjunction with an adoption of a child.

Where can I find forms to terminate parental rights?

There is no single set of forms, as each situation is different. Volume 4, Objective S of Texas Family Law Practice and Procedure contains sample forms and information you may be able to use. Our e-books may be accessed with a free library account.

Sample forms for termination of parental rights in mistaken paternity cases are provided by in their guide I want to terminate my rights. I mistakenly thought I was the genetic father (Termination).

The law can be complex, so you may wish to talk to an attorney before taking any action. For more information on finding an attorney, please see the library's Legal Help page.

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