Parenthood comes with certain rights and responsibilities. These rights are generally compatible and consistent with a healthy lifestyle that supports and values what is best for the welfare of the child. While the courts have a duty to protect parental rights that are wrongly threatened, when questions of paternal rights arise, the role of the family court is to put the interests of the child first and make decisions based on what will best serve the child.
Who Has Parental Rights?
Usually, biological parents automatically secure parental rights from the child’s birth. These rights are granted to other parental figures as well. Specifics for who can receive parental rights and what types of rights apply can vary by state, but generally, parental rights can be held by adoptive parents, foster parents, and legal guardians.
What Rights Does a Parent Have?
A parent has the right to physical custody of their child, which includes shared custody or visitation arrangements when necessary. Parents are legally responsible for their care and are legally permitted to make decisions on behalf of the child. Parental decisions protected by these rights may involve the child’s health, education, religion, and other personal and family matters. In addition, certain rights exist to allow parents to legally enter binding contracts on behalf of the child, as well as take advantage of certain property transfer and inheritance privileges.
Termination of Parental Rights
There are few instances when termination of parental rights is pursued. The most dramatic instances involve parents who are convicted of a crime. Often, instances of child abuse are the basis for termination of parental rights. Additionally, crimes that involve long-term incarceration may necessitate foster care for the child, which may result in a loss of parental rights.
Another way to lose parental rights occurs when the parents are unmarried. Without that legal status, a father must take steps to claim paternity. Unless a father exerts paternal rights, which may require a paternity test, the mother’s husband may legally assume parental rights either automatically if the marriage is in place at the time of the child’s birth, or later through adoption.
Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily, as well. This happens most often when the child is being put up for adoption. Courts generally do not grant voluntary termination for frivolous reasons, such as a parent who no longer wishes to be a parent or attempts to escape parental obligations, such as child support.
New Jersey DCPP Lawyers the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker Help Parents Understand Their Rights
The New Jersey DCPP lawyers at the Law Offices of Theodore J. Baker can help you fight for your rights as a parent and prove how your involvement is in your child’s best interest. Contact us online or call us at 856-795-9400 to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, and Voorhees.