Statutory Basis for Termination of Parental Rights in Children’s Best Interests in Virginia

Exhausting Parental Appeals of Termination Actions

Once a parent whose parental rights have been terminated has exhausted his or her appeal rights through the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia, there is no basis for appealing the circuit court’s denial of a motion to reinstate a request to regain custody. The Court will deny a request to reinstate custody once all appeal options have been exhausted. This was the recent case with a mother whose parental rights had been terminated.

Once Appeals Have Been Exhausted, Parental Rights are Permanently Terminated

Based on Virginia Code § 16.1-241(a), the mother was not a “party with a legitimate interest” because her parental rights had been terminated by the circuit court and she had exhausted her appeals options. The mother can no longer bring forth motions or requests regarding the child since all parental rights have been terminated. It is very important that appeals are timely filed if a parent wishes to undo a termination decision.

Standard for Termination of Parental Rights Includes Mental Health of Parent and Physical Presence of Parent with Child

Parental rights are often terminated in the best interest of the child. Courts rely on a set of appropriate, standard factors while looking at evidence supporting its decision. For example, parental rights are often terminated if the parent creates a known danger to the child. In a case involving the emergency removal of a child from a dangerous environment, the court determined that a mother suffered from significant mental health impairment and required medication and treatment. The mother failed to stabilize her mental health condition which caused the living arrangements of the child to be hazardous and dangerous, so to the point living in the home was not in the child’s best interest. The mother had a certain amount of time to stabilize and fix the living situation for the child, yet failed to do so. Therefore, her parental rights were terminated because she failed to create a safe environment for her child.

In the same case, the child’s father failed to maintain contact or provide for the child’s future after the child was placed in the foster care system. The father never visited for over a year. Ample services were offered to the father to help him maintain a relationship with his child, yet he did not take advantage of them. The court terminated his parental rights as well, due to lack of contact, provision, and support for the child.

Smith Strong, PLC: An Experienced Law Firm for Parental Termination Cases

Smith Strong, PLC has experience in arguing in favor of keeping parental rights and can provide the guidance to navigate the legal system to resolve parental right termination. As these cases are very fact specific, please call our firm for a comprehensive case evaluation. 

H. Van Smith
Trusted Virginia Family Law Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg