Father's fight to reinstate parental rights continues

Taking a child away from parents can be difficult and emotional for all involved. However, in some cases, in the best interest of the child, a court may terminate a parent's parental rights.

Every state has a statute which details factors for termination of parental rights. In Florida, for example, a parent's parental rights may be terminated if the parent-child relationship threatens the physical or emotional well-being of the child. Parents whose parental rights have been terminated may wonder if those rights can be reinstated in the future, and if a parent-child relationship can be re-established.

Florida residents may find it interesting to learn of a case where even though the father had lost his parental rights to two of his older children, a court of appeals refused to terminate his parental rights to his third and youngest child.

In this case, the parents had their parental rights to two older children terminated in 2010 because the mother was suffering from bipolar disorder, was off her medication but on marijuana and the father had a history of domestic violence against her. The father was incarcerated for assaulting the mother while she was pregnant with their third child. The third child was born sometime in May of 2011. A few months after she gave birth, the mother relinquished her parental rights. The father was in jail. Shortly after his release in 2012 the father sought visitation with his youngest child.

In the meantime, the father took positive steps to turn his life around, such as attending GED, anger management and parenting classes. He also attended AA meetings consistently and got a permanent physical address. Despite all the positive steps the father took, a child welfare worker recommended that his parental rights be terminated because of his past history of domestic violence and previous parental right terminations. A lower court terminated his parental rights. However, a court of appeals reversed the lower court's decision, noting that the father made mistakes in the past, but that a person's previous history does not alone determine his future. Further, the court noted that ending the father's rights was not in the best interest of his child.

Source: Omaha World Herald, "Toddler's future unclear after judges refuse to terminate dad's rights," Martha Stoddard, Oct. 23, 2013

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