GEORGIA STATUTE SUMMARY/Termination of Parental Rights

Adoption Child Welfare Law

GEORGIA STATUTE SUMMARY
Termination of Parental Rights

At the bottom of the following summary you will find a link that will take you to the Georgia state code website. The citations in the summary will aid in your search for the full text of the relevant provisions on the state code website.
Voluntary
A living parent or guardian may voluntarily, in writing, surrender his/her child to the department or any child-placing agency for adoption. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-4(a). Such voluntary surrender may also be made to facilitate an adoption by an identified third party. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-5(a).
The child’s biological father who is not the legal father may surrender all rights to his child for purpose of adoption. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-4(e)(2), Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-5(e)(2). Surrender may also be given by either an adult or minor; surrender given by a minor is binding as if the individual had the legal capacity to do so. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-4(i), Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-5(i).
The parent or guardian’s voluntary surrender must conform to Ga. Code §19-8-26(e) form. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-6(e)(1). The representative of each petitioner must execute an affidavit meeting requirements provided in Ga. Code Ann. 19-8-26(k). Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-6(h), 19-8-7(h).
An adoption petition filed based on the parent(s) voluntary surrender of the child must be filed within 60 days from date of that surrender. If the petition is not filed within that time, or if proceedings resulting from the petition do not result in an adoption, the surrender will operate as follows, as elected by the child’s legal parent or guardian:
• in favor of that legal parent or guardian, with an express stipulation that no provision of the surrender will impair its validity, absolute finality, or totality under any other circumstances, once the revocation period has expired;
• in favor of the agency designated in the surrender, if any; or
• in favor of the department for adoptive placement for adoption, if no legal parent, guardian, or agency is designated in the surrender, or if the designated agency does not accept the child for placement.
The court can waive the 60-day time period for filing the petition for excusable neglect. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-5(k).
A child whose legal father and legal mother are living but are not married to each other can be adopted by either parent’s spouse, if the other parent voluntarily and in writing surrenders all parental rights to the other spouse. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-6(a)(1).
Notice Rights
If the child’s biological father is not his/her legal father and his identity is unknown to petitioner or petitioner’s attorney, the court can require the mother to execute an affidavit regarding such father or show cause before the court if she refuses. If the court finds from the evidence including, but not limited to the mother’s affidavit, that such biological father has not:
• lived with the child;
• contributed to the child’s support;
• made any attempt to legitimate the child; or
• provided support or medical care for mother either during pregnancy or during her hospitalization for the child’s birth,
and petitioner provides the required certificate from the putative father registry, there is a rebuttable presumption the biological father who is not the legal father is not entitled to notice of proceedings. No further inquiry or notice shall be required by the court without evidence to rebut the presumption, and the court shall enter an order terminating the biological father’s parental rights. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(g).
When a termination petition is filed, a summons shall be issued, at least 30 days before the hearing date, on the child’s parents, guardian, lawful custodian, and the person with present physical custody of the child. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(a)-(c).
If the paternity of a child born out of wedlock has been judicially established before the petition was filed, the father shall be served with summons. Such father has the right to be heard unless he has relinquished all paternal rights to the child. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(d). A biological father who is not the child’s legal father who has not executed a surrender pursuant to statute shall receive notice in the following circumstances:
• if his identity is known to the petitioner or the petitioner’s attorney;
• if he is a registrant on the putative father registry who has acknowledged paternity pursuant to statute;
• if he is a registrant on the putative father registry who has indicated possible paternity of a child of the child’s mother during a period beginning two years immediately prior to the child’s date of birth; or
• if the court finds from the evidence that such biological father has done any of the following:
o lived with the child;
o contributed to the child’s support;
o made any attempt to legitimate the child; or
o provided support or medical care for the mother during her pregnancy or her hospitalization for the child’s birth.
Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(e). The notice shall advise such father that he loses all rights to the child and will not be entitled to object to the termination of those rights unless, within 30 days of receiving the notice, he files:
• a legitimation action as required by statute; and
• a notice that he has filed such petition with the court hearing the termination petition.
Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(h).
Grounds
Upon clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability, the court will consider whether termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interest, after considering the child’s physical, mental, emotional, and moral condition and needs, as well as a need for a secure and stable home. Ga. Code Ann. §§15-11-94(a), 15-11-99.
A parent’s rights may be terminated if:
• the parent so written consents, in writing and with court acknowledgement if required; acknowledgement before the court is not necessary where parent(s) voluntarily surrender child for adoption as provided by statute;
• the parent has wantonly and willfully failed to comply with a lawful court support order for a period of 12 months or longer;
• the parent abandoned the child or left him/her under circumstances that the parent’s identity is unknown and cannot be ascertained despite diligent searching, and the parent has not come forward to claim child within three months after the child was found; or
• the court determines parental misconduct or inability by finding that the child is a deprived child, as defined by statute, and the lack of proper parental care or control caused the child’s deprived status such cause is likely to continue or will not likely be remedied and continued deprivation will, or is likely to, cause the child serious physical, mental, emotional, or moral harm to child.
o To determine whether the child is without proper parental care and control, the court shall consider, without limitation:
 the medically verifiable deficiency of parent’s physical, mental, or emotional health, or
 an excessive use of alcohol or drugs (or a history of chronic, unrehabilitated alcohol or drug abuse),
[any of which rendering the parent unable to provide adequately for the child’s physical, mental emotional, or moral condition and needs]
 the parent’s conviction a felony and imprisonment that negatively effects the relationship with his/her child;
 the parent’s egregious conduct (or evidence of past egregious conduct) toward any child of a physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive nature;
 the parent’s present or past physical, mental, or emotional neglect of child; and
 the injury or death of a sibling under circumstances constituting substantial evidence that such injury or death resulted from parental neglect or abuse.
Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-94(b)(1)-(4)(A)-(B).
Additionally, if the child is not in parent’s custody, the court will consider, without limitation, whether such parent, without justifiable cause, has significantly failed, for one year or longer before the termination petition was filed:
• to develop and maintain a parental bond with the child in a meaningful, supportive manner;
• to provide for the child’s care and support as required; and
• to comply with a court-ordered plan designed to reunite the child with his/her parent(s).
Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-94(b)(4)(C).
A copy of the petition must be attached to summons in all cases other than service by publication. When served by publication, notice shall indicate general nature of allegations and where a copy of petition may be obtained. All summons shall contain a statement to the effect that the hearing is to terminate parental rights. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-96(b).
When parental rights have been surrendered or terminated pursuant to statute, the department, child-placing agency or adoption petitioner may file a petition to terminate the biological father’s rights to the child. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-12(d)(1)-(2).
The termination petition, and all subsequent court documents in the proceeding, must be in writing and shall be entitled “In the matter of ______, a child.” Upon appeal, the child’s anonymity must be protected by the use of initials. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-95(a). The petition should clearly and concisely request an order for termination of parental rights is requested. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-95(c). A petition alleging deprivation has to be made, verified, and endorsed by the court. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-95(b).
If the petition seeks termination of the rights of a biological father who is not the legal father and has not surrendered his rights to child, the petition must include a certificate from the putative father registry as specified by statute. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-95(d).
The court can require a physical or mental evaluation of a parent, stepparent, guardian, or child involved in a termination proceeding. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-100.
The record of the testimony from the termination proceeding is admissible only in later deprivation or termination proceedings involving the same child or respondent. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-101.
Any named, properly served person who fails to appear or bring the child before the court may be required by the court to appear to show why he/she should not be held in contempt of court. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-97(a). If the summons cannot be served or the person to whom the summons is directed fails to obey it, the court can order the child into protective custody. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-97(b).
All hearings must be conducted expeditiously and a dispositive order shall be issued no later than one year after the petition is filed, unless just cause has been shown for delay. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-106.
Representation of Parties
An agency cannot accept a voluntary surrender of parental rights without legal representation when:
• in the agency’s opinion, the parent appears incapable of exercising informed judgment; or
• the birth parent refuses to sign the surrender or assume responsibility for the child.
Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 290-9-2-.06(4)(n), 5(h).
In a termination proceeding, or any rehearing or appeal, the court shall appoint an attorney to represent the child and a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem may be same person as the child’s counsel, or a different person. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-98(a). If the child’s parent(s) are indigent and desire to be represented by counsel, the court shall appoint an attorney. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-98(b).
Dispositions
An order terminating parental rights shall be entered upon a court finding adoption is in the child’s best interests, after considering the child’s physical, mental, emotional, and moral condition and needs, including the need for a secure and stable home. Ga. Code Ann. § 19-8-11(a)(3).
An order that terminates a parent’s rights has no durational limit; it terminates such parent’s rights and obligations to the child and the child’s rights and obligations of child to the parent, including rights of inheritance. The parent is no longer entitled to notice of adoption proceedings regarding the child and has no right to object to the adoption or participate in the proceedings. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-93.
If the court orders parental rights terminated, it may grant an order under Ga. Code § 15-11-55 upon a finding from clear and convincing evidence that the child is a deprived child. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-94(c).
If a parent’s rights are terminated and the child has no remaining parent having rights, the court must first try to place the child with a person related to the child by blood or marriage or with member of the child’s extended family. If the court is unable to place the child, the court can give custody to the Department of Human Resources or a licensed child-placing agency, place the child in a foster home, or take other suitable measures for the child’s care and welfare. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-103(a).
A copy of every final order terminating parental rights must be sent by the court to the Office of Adoptions department within 15 days of filing. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-103(c).
If an adoption petition is not filed within one year after the date of the disposition order, the court shall review the child’s circumstances every six months to determine whether or not efforts have been made to assure the child will be adopted for as long as the child is unadopted. Ga. Code Ann. § 15-11-103(e).

Lexis Nexis GA Code

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About gacoalition4childprotectionreform1

For the past 10 years I have been researching family law, constitutional law dealing with deprivation and DFCS/CPS. While I am not a lawyer, I am a special family rights law Advocate; advocating families who have been disrupted by the department of family and children services.
This entry was posted in Family Rights, Georgia Abuse Cases, Georgia Family Rights and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to GEORGIA STATUTE SUMMARY/Termination of Parental Rights

  1. Please help me save my daughter from DFACS how do I un surrender my rights
    I was lied to by my lawyer and DFACS don’t I have 10 days?

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      Do you have your court file? What lawyer do you have? public defender or court appointed.

      Like

  2. Rebecca Nelson says:

    I’m currently in a lesbian relationship in Georgia. I am pregnant with a known sperm donor and he has agreed to sign over all right to our child. How do we go about this?

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      You may could either go through an original adoption, you could ask them to terminate their parental rights.

      Like

  3. Ashley says:

    I’m filing for terminations of my son’s fathers rights tomorrow through the superior court that set up the child support and super strict visitation schedule. He has never met my son and my son is 21 months old. I’m writing a living will and although my assets and money with be trusted to my son and my parents are in charge of distributing it, if something were to happen to me no matter what my will says my child would go to his natural parent, a complete stranger, a drug addict, I got upfront child support because after he didn’t show up for the birth I filed for divorce, it took over a year, because we had to hire a private investigator to find him, he didn’t pay me anything sooo my lawyer took his equity in the house and said “he hasn’t paid her, he has had substantial funds to through the discovers, so we will take upfront child support to ensure she gets something. My son was abandoned do you think I have a shot of terminating this monsters rights?

    Liked by 1 person

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      I have to tell you that I am not an attorney and any information given should not be considered legal advice, however, but from reading Georgia statutes and laws I would tell you that you have a pretty good shot at Terminating their Parental Rights. Refer to OCGA codes listed in this link I posted.

      http://www.divorcenet.com/states/georgia/termination_of_parental_rights_in_georgia

      Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      in light of DFCS, they hardly do what is in the best interest of the child or children – be careful with money – cause this is how DFCS works trust no one who works for dfcs – anyway – how I usually work is getting you to complete and draft the declaration. I need to post a copy of a template – is pretty self explanatory – parents or grandparents go to dfcs for help rarely having a high percentage rate in getting help when they ask for it.. I would also like to look at any paper work you may have pertaining to this case.

      Like

  4. Kay says:

    Hi. I had my parental rights terminated and I wanted to know if I can appeal it and also do I have to sign a form stated that I agree that my rights are terminated?? Please get back to me

    Like

  5. Kay says:

    Please respond

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      Hi Kay! Yes you can appeal your terminated parental rights and I wouldn’t sign anything especially something like that – I would also get a copy of that order that says that too – may be a way for you to use that order saying you don’t agree with it

      Like

  6. Kay says:

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. K.inga says:

    Do you have any advice on what my chances would be of being able to adopt my two foster sons? Dfcs is in the process of filing non-reunification, tpr on the birth mother. Both boys have two different fathers, one of which has no involvement and the other has no involvement but is waiting on his dna results as we speak. The boys have been in our care for over a year,one since birth. Will dfcs have a hard time terminating the fathers rights after the mothers? They say they can file as abandonment on his side since he has not stepped forward to take any steps in getting the child, other than the dna test,which is being paid for by dfcs. The grandmother of the child is very interested in him though. Im worried once the dna comes back, his family could step in and take him away. I would hate for the boys to be seperated and go to live with someone they do not know. In this case, would our relationship and bond with the children trump biological dna? Im worried sick.

    Like

  8. Efficiency Lodge says:

    Please help me save my family. My ex-husband and his father filed a petition in 2013 the father has passed away and my ex has yet to show for court. DFACS is trying to TPR me. I have compiled with my case plan. My current case worker has never contacted me. I have called her over 21X in the last three months? How do I move my case to my County?

    Like

  9. Larry says:

    I am currently trying to sign over my paternal rights as a father. We have no child support case. Is it possible for me to do this? I’m not trying to give him up foot adoption. The mother will still have custody.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Julie says:

    I am having trouble finding how to file Appeal on a termination of Rights. Defax took my great-grandsons and they would not give them to me. She don’t have money for a lawyer and I guess a lawyer will not be provided for her in the appeal process . The foster parents want to adopt my grandsons and I’ve basically been told because her rights are terminated so are mine as a great grandmother . Defax has lied and deceived and done everything they could to break up this family this is my 4th generation it’s cruel and it’s not to the better interest of the child the children know me and they love me and what is going to happen . I myself I’m a member of the Mental Health Association and I’m due to graduate next semester. I have filed all the papers with my grievance with the fax and I am also filing a grievance with the National Society of social workers for dereliction of Duty on behalf of the social worker at the facts. I need to know how to go about the appeal without a lawyer if you know anything I would greatly appreciate it thank you. Brokenhearted Grandy.

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      You don’t have t pay for an attorney. There is a thing in GA called Legal Aid? I do know this.

      Like

  11. Jerry says:

    I was looking to terminate my parental rights as a father. Could you please help and tell me how would I go about doing so. Thank you.

    Like

  12. Sam says:

    After termination of parental rights at what point in the future is contact legally authorized. It is my understanding that once the child is a legal adult contact can be made without legal recourse.

    Like

  13. Mary Mcleroy says:

    The biological dad wants to give up his rights. How or what do I do to get it done?

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      You have to go through family courts and terminate their parental rights. Which you may need a family law atty to do this for you.

      Like

  14. Chio says:

    my husband want to adopt my child and my ex husband is willing to give up all of his rights since he’s never been a dad to him in all aspects of my child’s life, since my child was 3 years old up to this date. is there any form that we need to fill up and/ot affidavit before we could file a petition for adoption in the court? what branch of the gov here in GA we need to got to, to inquire?

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      I do have to tell you that I am not a attorney, and anything that I send you or post here should not be considered legal advice.

      http://www.divorcenet.com/states/georgia/termination_of_parental_rights_in_georgia

      Procedure and Notice Requirements

      A proceeding to terminate a parent’s rights begins when someone with “knowledge of the facts” (such as another family member) files a petition for the termination of parental rights. In Georgia, the petition is brought in juvenile court. In fact, juvenile courts have exclusive jurisdiction over termination proceedings except in the case of adoption, for which the Superior Court shares concurrent jurisdiction. Because of the sensitive nature of termination proceedings, the petition must be verified and endorsed by the juvenile court before it is filed.

      Once a petition for termination of parental rights is filed, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the child. Unlike in most civil proceedings, the court will also appoint an attorney for the parents if they can show they are indigent. Georgia law recognizes the gravity of terminating parental rights, and making sure everyone is represented by counsel helps the court ensure that all of the relevant facts are raised.

      The petition must served (delivered) on the parents. If a parent fails to respond to the petition or appear in court, the court may take the child into protective custody.

      A hearing must be scheduled within 90 days after the petition is filed. The hearing is conducted without a jury; it is up to a judge alone to determine whether to grant or deny a petition to terminate parental rights in Georgia.

      Like

  15. Chio says:

    and he lives in the Philippines. can a written affidavit is acceptable (from him) in GA?

    Like

    • gacoalition4childprotectionreform1 says:

      It is a possibility, It may be taken into consideration, I would get him to do an affidavit. I don’t know about him and the hearing though? I would ask if he could maybe do the hearing through some type of video conferencing? Does he have a reason he cannot be at a hearing, he would have to send in a very good excuse…

      Like

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