Termination of Parental Rights in Pennsylvania

The termination of parental rights is necessary when a parent can no longer care for a child. Termination severs all ties between the child and biological parent, as though the child was never born to the parent. The issue of parental rights termination often arises in adoptions but can occur for other reasons. 

The two ways to terminate parental rights are voluntarily and involuntarily. You can consult family lawyers Norristown PA, if you need clarification about your parental rights over a child.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

Voluntary termination is usually the choice of parents who aren’t involved in a child’s life. They can willingly terminate their parental rights when there’s someone available to adopt the child. Unless an adoption is in motion, it may be difficult for biological parents to terminate parental rights over their child.

The law recognizes that children have a right to have a relationship with their parents. So, the court typically approves voluntary terminations if the child will be with a new parent. However, the court does make an exception if the child is transitioning into the custody of an adoption agency.

The biological parent must provide official consent and attend a court hearing some weeks after. The court will determine if the consent was deliberate and not under duress, before arriving at a final decision.  

Parental rights termination is permanent, and the biological parents wouldn’t be able to visit or make decisions for the child. Voluntary terminations often involve both biological and adoptive parents working with the adoption agency. However, due to the complex legal nature of the process, it’s also best to work with family lawyers in Norristown, PA.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Involuntary termination can occur when a parent files a petition to terminate another parent’s right over the child. The state can also file a petition to terminate the parental rights of one or both parents. Under Pennsylvania law, there are 11 grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights, and they include:

  • Failure to provide parental duties for at least six months before filing a petition
  • Acts of repeated incapacity, neglect, abuse, or refusal of a parent, causing a child to live without essential care for his physical and mental well-being.
  • A parent is presumed, but not the biological father
  • An agency finds a child, but the parents don’t claim that child after three months
  • The court removes the child from the parent due to certain conducts and the cause of removal still exists after six or more months
  • A parent neglects a newborn after being aware of the child’s birth
  • The child was born due to rape or incest
  • The court removes the child from the parent for 12 or more months, and the parent refuses to correct the cause of removal
  • The parent has a record of criminal homicide, aggravated assault, or an attempt of such crimes, in which the victim the parent’s child
  • Parent’s history of sexual abuse on one of his children
  • The parent is a registered sex offender in Pennsylvania

The process for involuntary termination is stricter and more complex than that of voluntary termination. After receiving a petition, the court has to weigh several factors that may affect the child before reaching a decision.


You may have several questions if you’re currently going through a case involving termination of parental rights. It’s also not advisable to navigate lawsuits yourself. You can seek legal counsel from family lawyers in Norristown, PA.