How to Terminate a Father's Parental Rights in Virginia
Updated July 20, 2017
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The parental rights termination laws in Virginia are outlined in the Code of Virginia, Title 63.2, Chapter 12. Virginia recognizes four types of birth father: the acknowledged birth father who is genetically proven to be the father or acknowledges being the father; the adjudicated birth father who is determined through judicial procedure to be the birth father; the presumed birth father who is or was married to the birth mother within 300 days of the child's birth; and registered birth father who has filed with the putative father registry.
Locate all possible birth fathers. Names and last known addresses of all possible birth fathers need to be provided by the birth mother to the social worker or lawyer involved in the case. Further, the names, including the birth mother's, need to be searched in the putative father registry.
Send a letter outlining the termination information, the birth father's rights and termination documents by certified mail to all possible birth fathers. The letter and corresponding documents are drafted and sent by the lawyer or social worker involved in the case. In the case of termination because of adoption, the birth father has 15 days under Virginia law to respond to the letter either by contesting the termination or voluntarily signing and sending back the termination documents.
Submit documentation to the circuit or domestic relations court in the county where the child was born or is residing. This documentation should include the signed termination papers from the birth father. If the birth father didn't respond, provide the certified mail receipt as evidence that attempts were made to notify him. If the birth father contests the termination, the social worker or lawyer can present evidence as to why his rights should be terminated. The judge has final say as to whether it's in the best interest of the child to have the birth father's rights terminated.
In Virginia, the court can terminate the birth father's rights without his consent under certain circumstances. If the birth father is convicted of rape or incest, and the child is the result of that crime, the judge can terminate the father's parental rights.
If a birth mother is unable to reasonably ascertain who the birth father is and signs an affidavit to that effect, the judge can waive birth father consent and terminate his rights (Code of Virginia 63.2-1203, A3).
Failure of a birth father to respond to a notice of termination letter within 15 days of receipt or not appearing at a hearing involving the case constitutes a waiver of the birth father's objection and can result in the termination of his rights.
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