Terminating Parental Rights
Can I do it in Oklahoma?
By Bill Noelker, Practice Manager Self Legal Group
We often get asked, “Can I terminate the parental rights of my child’s father/mother.” Usually, this question is asked because a parent is behaving badly or is not involved at all in the child’s life. The short answer is no. An individual cannot terminate the parental rights of a parent in Oklahoma. Who then, can terminate parental rights in Oklahoma?
The answer is the State of Oklahoma through a court case filed by the local District Attorney’s office. The process for doing so begins with a referral to the Department of Human Services alleging some form of abuse or neglect of a child. If the allegations are proven in court, then the State of Oklahoma must first attempt to rehabilitate the parent, or, in other words correct the parental issues that caused the problem in the first place. This rehabilitation can take many forms but often it includes drug and alcohol counseling, anger management, parenting classes, etc. A parent who completes the requirements has his or her parental rights restored by the court. A parent who does not complete them may have his or her parental rights terminated.
Parental rights are a fundamental right under the US Constitution so Oklahoma must ensure that all other reasonable possibilities are considered before terminating those rights. That is why. in many of these cases. it takes a long time before a District Attorney’s office will file to terminate parental rights.
This is a vey simple explanation of a very complex legal issue and by no means covers the entire subject. Keep in mind that we all share a duty to protect children from neglect or abuse by reporting it if we reasonably believe it is occurring. You can report anonymously but you must report it. If you have any questions regarding this or any other legal subject concerning children give us a call. Our experienced attorneys are here to serve you.
Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline: https://bit.ly/3sI0j6E