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Parental Rights

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Submitted By Amber123
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Louisa is a resident of Louisiana. She and her husband had two children prior to her husband’s death in 2012. Louisa suffers from addiction and in the past has been violent toward her children. In 2003 her children were placed by the state and later adopted. The children have prospered in the care of their adopted parents for the last three years. Louisa states she has not drank alcohol since July of 2006 and is seeking to reinstate her parental rights and be reunified with her children.

The termination of parental rights can be either voluntary or involuntary. Both methods sever the parent- child relationship. Once parental rights have been terminated, the child is legally free to be placed for adoption. Ch. Code Art. 1240; 1256(C); 1218 states upon adoption, the birth parents and birth relatives of the adopted person are relieved of all of their legal duties and divested of all of their legal rights with regard to the adopted person, including the right of inheritance from the adopted person. While each of the states takes a different approach, they address the same basic issues:

*which parties can petition the court to have those rights reinstated,

* age the child has to be in order to be covered by the petition

*length of time since the termination that the petition can be filed.

* the court must find that is in the best interest of the child to reinstate parental rights.

Hawaii and Louisiana are the only states that do not require a threshold or initial hearing regarding whether the petition may go forward prior to a hearing on the merits. Louisiana, counsel for the child or the Department of Social Services may make a motion to reinstate a parent’s rights if the child is over fifteen years old.

Interestingly, in Louisiana, although the parent and the child have the right to be heard, they are not considered parties to the proceeding and the hearing can be conducted without either of them present. However, the court may not grant the relief requested in the petition without the consent of the parent. If the reunification has been successful, a final order of reinstatement is issued and the dependency case is dismissed. Unfortunately, this statue is only an option for children in the state systems whom have not been adopted. As Louisa’s children have been adopted, she has no recourse based on her situation to request the adoption be overturned. As the adoptive parents are willing to allow contact between the mother and children perhaps such an agreement for non-relative visitation could be drawn up and agreed upon.

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