27 Nov 2013
Having your child taken away is almost every parent’s nightmare. However, under some circumstances, Virginia authorities and courts have the power to do just that by terminating your parental rights. Such matters are handled in the juvenile courts, which has its own particular set of rules and procedures separate from the regular court system. Therefore, if your parental rights have been put in jeopardy, you always want to contact an attorney who has extensive experience with juvenile courts so you have the best chance of keeping your child.
In order for Virginia courts to involuntarily terminate your parental rights, they must find three things: that termination is the best thing for the child, that the child is seriously threatened by neglect or abuse, and that it is improbable that the circumstances will change in a reasonable amount of time. Some examples of specific situations in which a court may decide to terminate your parental rights include:
- A parent abandoned the child.
- A parent cannot perform parental duties because of mental illness, mental deficiency, or addiction, and reasonable rehabilitation efforts have failed.
- A child has been subjected to chronic or severe physical or sexual abuse or torture.
- A child has been in foster care for six months without any communication attempts by the natural parent.
- A parent was convicted of felony assault or sexual assault of another one of their children or a child living with the parent; murder of voluntary manslaughter of another one of their children or a child living with the parent; or attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy for any of the previously mentioned offenses.
- A parent has had parental rights of another child terminated for any of the above circumstances.
Whenever your parental rights are questioned or threatened, you need to secure representation by an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible so he can begin working to protect your rights. Contact the office of Raymond B. Benzinger for an assessment of your case.