The legal standard for termination of parental rights varies from state to state. In the state of Florida, the state cannot petition for termination of parental rights if the parent or parents are in substantial compliance with a performance agreement developed by the Department of Children and Families. However, if the child has been abandoned by the parent and the parents whereabouts cannot be determined; or the parent's abuse and neglect present a serious threat to the life or well-being of the child despite the provision of services, the state may petition for termination of parental rights without ever formulating a performance agreement. If the parent continues to demonstrate abuse, abandonment, or neglect as evidenced by a failure to comply with a performance agreement or permanent placement plan, the state can petition for involuntary termination of parental rights.

The typical termination of parental rights evaluation includes interviews and psychological testing with the individual; and contacting current treatment programs and/or the psychotherapist for the patient. The psychologist who conducts these types of evaluations must be aware of the psychological research that has delineated the different traits of good parenting.

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© 2014 Dr. Charles B. Winick, Psy.D.