Parents generally have the right to spend time with and care for their children, and also make important decisions regarding the lives of their children. However, circumstances can be such that a parent loses his or her parental rights.

The termination of parental rights won’t happen for no reason at all. Tennessee family law courts will weigh this decision carefully, and they will only terminate parental rights in cases where they believe that it serves the best interest of the child or children involved.

Circumstances when courts choose to end the legal parent-child relationship

Here are a few circumstances that could give rise to a court decision to formally terminate a parent’s parental rights:

Chronic or severe physical, emotional or abuse against the child directly or others in the family: A parent who repeatedly abuses his or her child is in danger of losing his or her parental rights. Even one instance of severe abuse could inspire a court to terminate the parent-child relationship permanently.

Neglect and abandonment of the child: Instances in which a parent leaves a young child for significant periods of time without care could also result in the loss of parental rights. In other cases, a parent might abandon a child with the other parent and take no interest in the child’s life or in providing financial support for the child’s care.

The parent has a long-term mental deficiency or mental illness: In many cases, it’s not the parent’s fault. He or she simply does not have the mental faculties or capabilities to care for his or her child.

Alcohol and drug dependencies: Parents with alcohol or drug problems could lose their parental rights due to their inability to appropriately care for their children.

Felony conviction and/or imprisonment: A felony conviction or long-term imprisonment of the parent could end in the loss of parental rights. The parent simply will not be able to care for his or her child and the court will need to find another responsible party who can provide care.

Are you facing circumstances like those described above?

Whether you’re a parent facing accusations of the above scenarios, or if these descriptions fit the other parent of your child — you may want to consider your legal options. If the evidence clearly supports one of these scenarios, the court will likely take action to limit or completely terminate the accused parent’s parental rights. In terms of less severe consequences for the accused parent, the court might continue to allow contact with the children by allowing supervised child visitations in which a court-approved third-party is present at all times to guard the safety and well-being of the children.