Loss of Parental Rights
Patricia Bergum Wagner
For many offenders, potentially one of the severest consequences of engaging in criminal behavior is the loss of parental rights. Every state in the United States has its own laws that dictate when a court may terminate parental rights. Depending on the type and length of sentence imposed on the offender, the law may require that the offender's parental bond be permanently severed. In other cases, termination of parental rights is not mandatory, but the underlying behavior, regardless of the sentence, may trigger a court action to assess and possibly intervene in the parent-child relationship. The rights of one parent can be terminated without negating the rights of the other parent, but if both parents lose their rights to the child, the child becomes a ward of the state and may be placed in a permanent adoptive family or guardianship. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), a federal statute ...