Ways & How

how to give up parental rights in Texas

how to give up parental rights in Texas

Giving up parental rights is neither an ordinary legal proceeding nor an easy emotional battle. In Texas, a petition to give up parental rights is a proceeding with extreme caution. The state always ensures the child’s welfare is of paramount interest. The process on how to give up parental rights in Texas is not as easy since it is imbued with public interest. Basically, Title 5, Chapter 161, of the Texas Family Code is the governing law when it comes to relinquishing parental rights over a child. There are two kinds of relinquishment of parental rights: voluntary and involuntary. For the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, the usual ground is adoption. For involuntary cases, the usual grounds include: abandonment, conviction of a crime that causes death or serious injury to another child, abuse or neglect, termination of parental rights for another child, endangerment, and failure to meet the requirements as required by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). In this case, the petition may be initiated by a third person or by the DFPS.

To educate yourself with the process, study the following steps:

  1. Visit or call the local county courthouse. Unless you will engage the services of a family law attorney, you need to inquire before the local county courthouse about the process on how to file the petition. The county courthouse will provide you with information in order to initiate the process of relinquishing parental rights.

  2. Seek the advice of a family law attorney. A family law attorney can give you legal advice so your petition can be sustained in court. If upon initial assessment you have viable grounds, the lawyer will assist you in the preparation of your petition. The lawyer’s services entail the payment of legal fees unless said services are pro bono.

  3. Execute an Affidavit of Relinquishment. This affidavit is indispensable in the voluntary relinquishment of parental rights under Texas law. The fact that you are not presently obliged to provide child support, and that the severing of parental rights is for the best interests of the child must be disclosed. The affidavit must be signed by two witnesses. In cases of an unborn child, the petition must disclose the names of the biological parents or that the child has no presumed father.

  4. Secure and prepare a petition form. Once you have inquired on how to go through the process, it is now time to secure and prepare the necessary forms for the petition. Attach to your petition the affidavit you executed earlier. File the petition at the county courthouse where the child resides. After the filing, within a period of 180 days, the court will schedule a hearing on the petition.

  5. Make reasonable efforts to return the child to its biological parents. This is true in cases where the DFPS is the one filing for the Petition to Relinquish Parental Rights. In turn, the parents are ordered to work for the reunification with the child. At least six months prior to the filing, the DFPS will act as the temporary and sole managing conservator for the child. The law likewise mandates that the parents will serve as attorney ad litem in the course of the petition.

  6. Summon the parents and relatives of the child. These people must be properly notified. Thus, due and diligent efforts must be exerted in searching for the missing or unknown parents. In case the search becomes futile, the relatives of the child must be notified, and they must be allowed to request conservatorship of the child. When proof of notification or when diligent attempts to notify the parties concerned is lacking, the court cannot order the severance of the parent-child relationship.

  7. Resolve paternity issues. In instances wherein the petition alleges that the biological father’s identity is unknown, Texas law requires that reasonable efforts must be made in order to locate the alleged father, otherwise parental rights may not be terminated. The parties may resort to searching the Paternity Registry to serve the requirement imposed by law. Once the father is properly notified but fails to appear on the hearing or respond to the petition within the period required by law, the court may grant the Petition to Relinquish Parental Rights.

  8. Prove your case. The Texas Family Code requires that the grounds to relinquish parental rights be proven by clear and convincing evidence. It is the quantum of evidence higher than a preponderance of the evidence as required in civil cases but lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt as required in criminal cases. The petitioner must prove that the grounds supporting the petition have a high degree of probability to be true.

  9. Submit the child’s medical history. The Texas Family Code requires that a written medical history of the child be submitted to the court. When the petition is initiated by the DFPS, said agency is required to keep a copy of the child’s medical history. This file will be used for the future medical treatment that the child might undergo.

  10. Appointment of managing conservator. When the parental rights have been relinquished, the court will appoint a managing conservator for the child. A relative or the missing parent who eventually appears in court after the granting of the petition may request the court to be appointed as conservator.

It is wrong to say that in Texas parents can automatically relinquish their parental rights over their children. The severance has to go through a legal process in order to ensure the paramount interests of the child. The process on how to give up parental rights in Texas must be studied carefully long before the filing of the petition. This is a very serious action for the parents and the children and must be considered carefully.


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