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Child Protective Services Article 7 of 7: Termination of Parental Rights


This article provides information on Child Protective Services and termination of parental rights. This article was written by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and the CPS Family Helpline for Strong Families & Safe Children.
 

 

Overview

To terminate a parent’s rights to their child, a judge or jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that at least one ground for termination exists AND that termination of the parent-child relationship is in the child’s best interest. If DFPS is moving for termination, it has the burden of proof.

Clear and convincing evidence is the burden of proof that DFPS must show the judge or jury when requesting that a parent’s rights be terminated. Clear and convincing evidence is the measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established. A parent is not required to agree to the termination of their parental rights to their child. If a parent does not agree to have their rights to their child terminated, DFPS must be able to meet their burden of proof with evidence in court.

 

 

A. Grounds for Termination

The Texas Family Code currently lists 21 different possible grounds for termination of the parent-child relationship. Any ground for termination that DFPS will be asking the judge or jury to find against a parent must be listed in DFPS’s petition for termination of parental rights. Some of the most commons grounds for termination of a parent’s rights to their child involve a parent abandoning a child who is in the care of DFPS, a parent failing to complete the orders made during the DFPS case, and a parent endangering the child.

 

B. Best Interest of the Child

Whether the termination is in the best interest of the child is the second piece that DFPS must prove by clear and convincing evidence to terminate a parent’s rights to their child. The best interest of the child is the primary concern in any lawsuit involving children.
 
The court will weigh what is in the best interest of the child throughout the DFPS case. Although the law provides a general list of the factors to be considered when determining the best interest of the child, not one factor outweighs the others. The factors listed below are considered as a whole by the court when determining the best interest of the child during the DFPS case: 
 
  1. the child's age and physical and mental condition;
  2. stability of the household;
  3. the extent of harm to the child;
  4. whether the child has been the victim of repeated harm after DFPS involvement;
  5. whether the child is fearful of living in or returning home;
  6. the results of psychiatric, psychological, or developmental evaluations all parties involved;
  7. whether there is a history of abusive or assaultive conduct in the household;
  8. whether there is a history of substance abuse in the household;
  9. whether the perpetrator of the harm to the child is identified;
  10. the willingness and ability of the child's family to seek out, accept, and complete services as requested by DFPS;
  11. the willingness and ability of the child's family to effect positive changes within a reasonable period of time;
  12. whether the child's family demonstrates adequate parenting skills; and 
  13. whether an adequate social support system is available to the child.
Additionally, when considering whether to terminate a parent’s rights to their child, the following factors should also be considered:
 
  1. the desires of the child;
  2. the emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
  3. the emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
  4. ​the parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody; 
  5. the programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child;
  6. the plans for the child by these individuals or the agency seeking custody;
  7. the stability of the home or proposed placement;
  8. the acts or omissions of the parent which may indicate the the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and 
  9. any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.