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.