Understanding Parental Rights: A Simple Guide

July 14, 2021
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain


If you’re going through a divorce or separation and there are children involved, you’re likely wondering about parental rights. As a step parent adoption lawyer from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, child custody laws vary greatly by state. Courts are responsible for interpreting these laws and then fashioning agreements that create the best outcome for the child. Here is a quick look at this delicate matter that newly single parents are bound to find useful.

Who Gets Parental Rights?

Biological parents are granted parental rights (also known as custody rights) the moment a child is born. Parental rights are also given to those who adopt, whether the adoption was processed through a public or a private agency. The specifics required to adopt differ according to region. When couples split, parents may be afforded unique parental rights. This sometimes happens after a parent petitions the court to alter the balance of power, thus giving one individual more rights than the other. 

What Types of Parental Rights Are There?

There are two types of parental rights. One is physical custody, where the parent is allowed to have the child live under their roof. In instances where parents live close to one another, physical custody may be evenly divided between them. The other type of right is legal custody, which gives parents the power to make important decisions in a child’s life, including schooling and health care.

Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?

Yes, your rights as a parent can be terminated. This can happen as a result of a court order, or a parent might voluntarily decide to forfeit his or her rights. A court will only take this measure in drastic circumstances, such as when the wellbeing of the child would otherwise be endangered.

If your rights are entirely revoked, the other parent will get complete control. You would have no ability to make decisions regarding the child or even visitation. Additionally, it is possible that your rights could be partially taken away. One potential outcome is that you have physical custody but are restricted from making certain decisions. A more agreeable scenario involves both parents crafting an agreement that fits their requests and benefits the child. Even if both parties are capable of forging a compromise, a court must still approve the arrangement.

It’s a sticky situation when families break apart, but that doesn’t mean that either parent loves their children any less. Hire a child custody lawyer to protect your rights and create the optimal situation for your little ones.