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Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Cases May Terminate Parental Rights

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

When we hear the term “terminate parental rights”, it usually refers to one of two things.  In the case of an adoption, parents will need to terminate their parental rights in order for the adoption to become legal.  But in criminal cases, where parents are charged with child abuse or neglect, they may lose their parental rights involuntarily. 

A court-imposed termination of parental rights is not necessary for parents who choose to forego visitation and live apart from their children.  Under most circumstances, the court would only get involved in parental rights issues when a parent becomes a danger to his or her child. 

While the actual laws vary from one state to another, the most common reasons for a court to terminate parental rights include parental engagement in any type of criminal activity that puts the child in danger, abuse or neglect of the child by one or both parents, the inability to care for a child due to substance abuse problems, and the incarceration of both parents.

Before the state of Colorado can terminate parental rights, it must have made an effort to involve the parents in any proceedings leading up to this decision and work toward a constructive reunification between parent and child.  However, when these efforts fail and/or parents choose not to cooperate with the state, a termination of parental rights will occur.

When a parent loses his or her parental rights, they lose more than their custody and visitation rights.  The parent is also permanently prohibited from having the right to visit or contact the child, and no longer has the right to any input in decisions that are made for the child.  Of course, termination of parental rights also relieves the parent of any financial responsibility towards the child.

What to do if you Suspect Abuse

As a Colorado Springs child abuse lawyer, it is not uncommon for me to hear from parents who suspect another family member or caregiver of child abuse. Suspicious bruises on their child, unusual behavior, or an unusual amount of anxiety in their child would give any parent a reason to wonder if their child is being abused. But proving it may be very difficult, especially if the child is very young.

Here are some steps you can take to begin investigating your suspicions before you get in touch with an attorney.

  • Talk through your feelings and suspicions with your partner or a trusted friend. Or, if your child attends a day care facility, ask other parents if they have noticed anything unusual with their children.
  • In the case of a daycare provider, speak with the provider in person, and bring another adult with you as a support person. By listening to the caregiver’s reaction, you will be able to gather a lot of valuable information. Even their non-verbal signals may be valuable in assessing the situation. Is he or she feeling defensive, hostile, concerned?
  • If you have reason to believe that further investigation is needed, it makes sense to contact a Colorado Springs child abuse lawyer for a consultation. An attorney will advise you to report your suspicions by calling your local Child Protective Services agency, and let you know what type of evidence will be needed in order to bring charges against the alleged perpetrator.
  • A social worker from Child Protective Services will need to interview you and your child, and will make sure your child is examined by a physician who can fill out a detailed report on your child’s physical condition. In some cases, the social worker will also recommend that your child meet with a psychologist.
  • If a case can be made for child abuse, a Colorado Springs child abuse lawyer will guide you through the steps that need to be followed, and will file all the necessary petitions with the appropriate Colorado courts.
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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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