There are eight grounds to terminate parental rights in Connecticut Probate Court. In my experience, the most common is abandonment.

By definition, abandonment occurs when a parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of their child. They key word is “maintain” since the parent must show interest on a continuing basis. Sporadic interest is not enough.

Here are some examples of abandonment:

  • Lack of visitation and phone calls
  • Does not send cards or gifts especially on holidays or birthdays
  • Does not inquire of the other parent how their child is doing educationally, socially and medically
  • Does not request access to educational or medical records
  • Fails to pay child support or otherwise contribute financially

A valid defense to an abandonment claim is that the custodial parent prevented the non-custodial parent from having a relationship with the child. Therefore, a termination of parental rights on the grounds of abandonment may pose a significant legal issue when one parent has alienated the other parent from the child.

Even if abandonment is established, the Probate Court or Juvenile Court must also make a separate finding that the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. For example, a termination of parental rights may not be in the best interest of an older child who does not wish to be adopted. In addition, some judges prefer that there is a reasonable “plan” for the support and care of the child if the rights are terminated such as stepparent adoption.

I represent families throughout Fairfield County including Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Contact me online  or call me in my Stamford office at (203) 356-1475 or in my Fairfield office at (203) 259-5251 for an evaluation of your Termination of Parental Rights case.

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