Terminating Parental Rights In Florida

mother and son

The decision to terminate a parent’s legal rights is serious and often emotionally charged. It can happen for many reasons, ranging from concerning issues of parental fitness to exciting prospects of adoption. Whatever the reason, the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg in Boca Raton are here to help explain and guide you through the process of terminating parental rights. To learn more about when a court will allow a parent’s rights to their child terminated, call or contact our office today.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

The easiest way to terminate parental rights is through voluntary termination, and it happens most often in cases of adoption. The parent surrendering their rights must sign the proper documentation, with witnesses and notarization. The parent must also agree to a court order giving custody of the child to someone else.

Abandonment of a Child

Another reason the court may terminate parental rights happens when a parent abandons their child.  The requirements to meet the abandonment threshold are fact-driven in Florida; notwithstanding, if a parent’s whereabouts cannot be located for sixty days and they have not been in communication with their child or paying child support payments, the child can be considered abandoned. 

Threats to the Child’s Safety

The court may also terminate parental rights if actions by the parent constitute abuse, threats to the child’s safety, or egregious conduct. This reason for termination of parental rights has a very high threshold, and it must be shown that the parent acted in such a way as to threaten the life, safety, or health of the child or had the opportunity to prevent others from doing so and chose to not intervene. This behavior must also be continuing, even after state service or law enforcement intervention.


Parental rights may also be terminated if the parent is incarcerated and the prison sentence either constitutes the majority of the child’s minor childhood or the parent falls into one of the following categories:

  • Violent career criminal
  • Habitual serious offender
  • Sexual predator

In addition, parental rights may be terminated for incarceration if the parent’s convictions render them eligible for a life sentence or the death sentence. Conviction for murder, sexual offenses, and other serious crimes also qualify for termination of parental rights.

Substance Abuse 

The final reason why the Florida courts may terminate parental rights is due to ongoing substance abuse issues with a parent. It must be shown to the court that the parent has an ongoing, extensive, and chronic substance abuse problem that renders the parent unable to care for their child, and the parent must refuse to participate in available drug treatment programs. This is an incredibly high threshold.  To learn more about when and whether a parent’s rights may be terminated in your case, talk to an experienced Florida family law attorney today.

Talk to Our Office Today

If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable Boca Raton family attorney about the termination of parental rights, call the office or contact us today at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg to schedule a consultation at our firm.


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