Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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Termination of Parental Rights due to Abandonment

Many parties inquire as to whether they can terminate the other parent's rights on the basis of abandonment. The answer is not a simple yes or no. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511, there are nine (9) grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. Two of the grounds are as follows: (1) 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.

(2) 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.

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The party seeking termination must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent's actions meet at least one of the grounds for termination as listed in the statute. After inquiry into the parents, the court shall also consider if there is an emotional bond between the parent and child and potential consequence of severing that bond. Keep in mind that termination of a biological parent's rights and adoption often go hand in hand. A party cannot adopt without termination of the biological parent's rights. A biological parent cannot voluntarily terminate their rights or sign a child away without another party stepping in to adopt. Similarly, a biological parent cannot have the other parent's rights involuntarily terminated without another party stepping in to adopt.

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