There are many difficult choices a parent must sometimes be willing to make for the good of a child. As hard as it can be, sometimes the best thing for the wellbeing of a child is to pursue the termination of parental rights for a parent who has been incarcerated. Florida joins many other states in allowing for the termination of parental rights for incarcerated individuals when some conditions are met.
The first factor family courts in Florida consider is what portion of a child’s minority, or the time until the child is no longer a minor, the incarcerated parent will spend behind bars. The court requires that the amount of time be demonstrated to be “significant,” and takes into consideration the age of the child and any specific parental needs the child may have that would suffer unduly from the parent’s incarceration.
Courts also consider the nature of the incarcerated individual’s offense. Termination of parental rights is more likely to be granted if the incarcerated parent is deemed to be a “violent career criminal” or have committed a substantially similar offense, such as felony murder, or felony sexual assault.
Several other general contributing factors are brought to bear in considering terminating parental rights for an incarcerated individual. The court will attempt to determine whether continuing a parental relationship is demonstrably harmful to the child, considering the existing nature of the parent-child relationship, the nature of the parent’s past provision for the child, and any other relevant criminal behavior on the part of the incarcerated parent.
Making the choice to pursue termination of parental rights of an incarcerated individual for the sake of a child’s wellbeing is never an easy path to walk, no matter the circumstances. The careful guidance of a law professional experienced in family law can help make this choice as respectful as possible while protecting the rights of the parents and the child.