Terminating a parent’s rights is a serious—and permanent—legal step. In Wisconsin, termination of parental rights means that all links that normally bind a parent and child are legally severed.
In many cases, courts are reluctant to grant terminations of parental rights. In order to terminate another parent’s rights, you’ll have a very heavy burden of proof to bear.
In some cases, one parent is willing to terminate his or her parental rights. However, the court doesn’t automatically approve these types of requests. For example, a person who is simply trying to avoid paying child support isn’t going to be able to terminate his or her rights.
The judge will want to make sure that it will be better for the child if his or her parent is no longer legally considered a parent, as well as ensuring that the parent understands that it’s permanent.
Many people are interested in terminating their ex’s parental rights because they feel the children would be better off, or because they want a new stepparent to adopt the kids.
The issue is that Wisconsin’s family court system recognizes the importance of parental bonds and parental involvement—and circumstances have to be very serious in order for them to grant such a request.
A court may consider involuntarily terminating your ex’s parental rights for reasons such as abandonment, child abuse or incest. They may consider it for sexual assault, criminal activity against a child, or having an earlier termination of rights with regard to another child as well. However, it’s an uphill battle if the other parent is not willing to give up his or her rights to the child.
Remember, if you succeed in terminating your ex’s parental rights, you’ll no longer be entitled to receive child support to help with your child’s expenses. You might have better luck changing your custody order so that your ex gets less visitation (which can be particularly helpful if you feel your child is in a dangerous or harmful environment with your ex).
The bottom line is that it’s best to talk to a lawyer about your options. A Wisconsin divorce attorney who focuses on parental rights is probably your best bet; he or she will be able to tell you what will work out best in your case.