When you and your former spouse divorced, you may have hoped they would play a responsible role in your children’s lives. No matter your feelings toward them, you might have hoped they would prove themselves a fit parent. Yet, their conduct after your divorce could prove alarming. And it might even put your children in jeopardy. If it does, you may want to consider terminating your former spouse’s parental rights.
Understanding the process
Texas recognizes both the voluntary and involuntary termination of parental rights. Voluntary termination is rare in divorces; it usually happens in adoption cases. If your former spouse’s conduct is harming your children, you will need to seek an involuntary termination.
Your former spouse could lose their parental rights if:
- They are unable or unwilling to support your children
- They have a history of abusing substances in front of your children
- They have exposed your children to sexual predators
- They have physically or sexually abused your children
- They have engaged in criminal conduct
- They have a diagnosed mental illness that makes them unable to care for your children
- They have violated your divorce’s terms of custody or support
Protecting your children
Your children may need protection before you move to terminate your former spouse’s parental rights. Before your case, you have the option of filing a temporary restraining order against them. This order will last through your case’s duration. And it bars your former spouse from all contact with you and your children. Keep in mind, though, that your former spouse will likely contest your motion to terminate their parental rights. Yet, in hearing your case, a judge may rule in favor of termination so long as clear and convincing evidence supports it and it reflects your children’s best interests.
Motioning to terminate your former spouse’s parental rights is not a decision to make lightly. Yet, if their behavior endangers your children, you must take every step necessary to protect them.