Termination of parental rights means the natural parent of a child forever loses or forfeits any rights as a parent. This would include the loss of any standing for future custody actions. Termination of parental rights can generally only occur in conjunction with an adoption matter or involvement by a local social services agency. Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 2511, there are nine (9) grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights. Several of the grounds available relate to crimes committed by the parents. For example, rights may be terminated if the parent(s) have committed child abuse or neglect. This can result in a criminal charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
Rights may also be terminated in connection with rape. Specifically, whether the parent is the father of a child conceived as a result of a rape or incest. Either parent can lose their rights if convicted of any of the following offenses in which the victim was a child of the parent: criminal homicide, aggravated assault, a comparable crime in a different jurisdiction, or any attempt/conspiracy to commit the above. The party seeking termination must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the parent’s actions meet at least one of the grounds for termination as listed in the statute.