In California, family law concerns involve more than divorce, child custody, child support and spousal support. Other family law matters can bring considerable conflicts to families. One of those is the termination of parental rights. Every state, including California, has statutes that govern the termination of parents' rights to raise their children, and these form the basis of any court decision.
Termination of parental rights is usually involved with adoption or paternity. When a parent's legal relationship with a child is terminated, the child is legally eligible to be placed for adoption. A termination can be voluntary or involuntary. For example, birth parents can voluntarily give up their rights in order to place their children for adoption.
When parental rights are involuntarily terminated, different factors are considered. The main factor is whether ending the parent-child relationship is in the child's best interests. There are also specific grounds that can lead to the involuntary termination of parental rights. These include sexual abuse, abuse or neglect, severe or chronic abuse or neglect and child abandonment.
The health condition of parents is also a reason to terminate parental rights. Parents' long-term illnesses can involuntarily end child-parent relationships, as can any criminal history or alcohol or drug abuse. Parents who fail to maintain contact with their children also can have their rights terminated.
Likewise, the safety and health of children is an important consideration. If a parent lacks the capacity to raise their children well or are considered risks to them, then under family law the courts can step in to protect their children.
Source: Childwelfare.gov, "Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights," Accessed on Oct. 29, 2014