Sometimes divorce actions turn nasty.
Under North Carolina law, a parent’s rights can be ended by legal decree. This sort of court action happens when a parent has demonstrated significant failures in the parental role—for example, by neglecting, abusing, or abandoning a child. Those are legitimate grounds to act: if a parent is acting in a harmful manner to a child, it’s appropriate to place a barrier between them.
The existence of the law that permits termination of parental rights in North Carolina can also be used inappropriately. Sometimes, during a divorce action, one parent will threaten the other with termination of parental rights in an effort to gain the upper hand on divorce issues such as property division or alimony.
Most of the time, but certainly not always, it is the wife who makes these threats to wrest concessions from her husband—and not always in a divorce. This is just one example of how the North Carolina family law system gives fathers a hard time. At Speaks Law Firm, we are dedicated to preserving father’s rights in family litigation, but we will work side-by-side with any client who is facing a wrongful attempt to end parental rights.
What is termination of parental rights?
A court decision to terminate parental rights breaks the connection between you and your child. If the court sustains the legal action, your relationship with your child will change in important ways:
- You will no longer have any say in how your child is raised.
- You will lose visitation rights.
- You cannot seek custody of the child.
- You may be forbidden to communicate with your child in any way (even telephone or mail) until after he turns 18.
- You will not be notified of adoption proceedings involving the child, and you may not object to or participate in them.
As you can see, these are serious obstacles to your future relationship with your son or daughter. You should take the forfeiture of your parental rights lightly.
Fighting parental rights termination in New Hanover County
Fortunately, the legal system affords you an opportunity to fight to keep your parental rights. Whoever sues to terminate your relationship with your child must give a legal reason—called grounds—for the termination. The case will go to a hearing before a judge, who will examine the evidence and arguments on both sides of the issue. Even if he finds that there are grounds for terminating your rights, he must also be convinced that to do so would be in the best interest of the child.
At each of these stages, your Wilmington parental rights attorney may make the appropriate counter-arguments to support your parental rights, and present evidence in your favor. The burden of proof at the hearing is on the person filing the complaint to show you are an unsuitable parent. A strong defense of your parenting history by a North Carolina family law attorney can persuade the court not to terminate your rights as a parent.
It is essential that you have experienced legal representation if you want to fight the termination of your parental rights. The Speaks Law Firm is proud to represent family law clients throughout the Wilmington area, including all of New Hanover County, Pender County, Brunswick County, Columbus County, and Robeson County. Call us at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 when you need trusted and skilled legal assistance in preserving your rights as a parent.