The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists several grounds for terminating parental rights at ChildWelfare.gove, including abuse or neglect, abandonment of the child, long-term mental illness, and failure to maintain contact with the child. The exact grounds for terminating parental rights vary by state, notes FindLaw.
The Adoptions and Safe Families Act requires a state agency to file a petition for the termination of parental rights when the child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, when a court has determined a child to be an abandoned infant, and when a court has determined that the parent assaulted the child or killed or assaulted another of his children, according to the National Association of Social Workers. Termination of parental rights means a complete severance of the legal relationship between the parent and child, including all rights and responsibilities, excepting the child's inheritance and religious affiliation. An individual can contact a family law attorney for more information on the legal process of terminating parental rights.