Having a child comes with both rights and responsibilities. A parent has the legal right to custody of a child, as well as the responsibility to provide for her financially, but the legal relationship can be terminated. In Ohio, like many states, this is done by a court order. Termination of parental rights in Ohio can be voluntary or involuntary and is required before a child can be adopted.
Termination of Parental Rights in Ohio
Parental rights sounds like a legal term, but it simply means the right to parent your child. That includes the right to have the child live with you and the right to make life decisions for that child, such as choices about schooling, medical care and religion. All parents start off with these basic rights to parent their children, but in Ohio, they can voluntarily give up the rights to allow for adoption and they can lose these rights, usually for abuse, inability to take care of the child, or neglect.
Read More: The Termination of a Father's Parental Rights
Signing Over Parental Rights in Ohio
If the natural parents of a child feel that they're not able to provide a good home for her, they can voluntarily terminate their parental rights in Ohio. They can sign a consent to adoption form 72 hours or more after the birth. If the child is less than six months old, the parents can execute a notarized statement of consent to the adoption as well as the statutory consent to adoption form without appearing in court. In other circumstances, the parents must appear in court to give consent.
Under Ohio law, an adoption petition may be granted only when both the mother and father give written consent. The father's consent is not necessary unless the minor was conceived or born while the father was married to the mother, the father acknowledged paternity or adopted the child, or the court already determined paternity. In certain cases, a putative father – someone generally considered to be the father – must also give written consent along with anyone having permanent custody of the child. A natural father does not have the right to sign over parental rights in Ohio if the mother wants to parent the child. If the mother is going to raise the child, the biological father will have the duty to provide financial assistance, and he cannot avoid this by terminating parental rights.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights in Ohio
Termination of parental rights is often involuntary. In Ohio, the procedure is commenced with a motion for permanent custody. It is not called a motion for involuntary termination. The motion is brought by a state agency that has been granted temporary custody of a child based on a showing of abuse or neglect.
In order for a court to grant a motion for permanent custody and terminate parental rights, it must find that termination is in the best interests of the child. It must also find one of a variety of other circumstances, including that the child has been abandoned; that the child is orphaned and has no relatives able to provide permanent custody; that the child has been in state custody for 12 months or more of the prior 22 months; and that the parents have failed to remedy the problem that led up to the award of temporary custody to the state.
Problems resulting in loss of parental rights can include any circumstances that make a parent incapable of caring for a child, from chronic mental illness to physical disability or chemical dependency. They can include child abuse or neglect, or failure to support or communicate with the child. Criminal offenses are also grounds for involuntary termination, including child endangerment, sexual assault, domestic violence and kidnapping. Likewise, a parent's right can be terminated if he is convicted of a serious crime against the child or another child in the household or if he has repeatedly withheld medical treatment or food from the child. It is also grounds if the parent is incarcerated and can't care for the child for at least 18 months. For a complete list, see Ohio Revised Code § 2151.414. Procedures for terminating parental rights can vary between counties.
- Adoption and Child Welfare Lawsite: Ohio Statute Summary / Termination of Parental Rights
- Ohio Revised Code: Section 3107.07 Consent Unnecessary
- Child Welfare.gov: Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
- Child Welfare.gov: Consent to Adoption
- Justia Ohio Codes: Ohio Rev Code § 2151.414 (2017)
- Justia Ohio Codes: Ohio Rev Code § 3107 (Adaptions) 2017)