What Needs to Be in a Letter to Appeal a Family Court Order for Termination of Parental Rights?

Although each state's procedures vary, a notice of appeal typically includes the following: the name of the person appealing, the order being appealed and its filing date, the court that handled the case and the court being asked to review the case. Generally, it must also show that the first court misinterpreted the law, misunderstood the facts or the termination was not in the best interests of the child.

Termination of parental rights is a legal process that revokes a parent's right to make decisions for, or otherwise communicate with, his child until the child is 18 years old. If both parents lose their parental rights, the child can be adopted without the parents' permission. Parental rights are terminated only for specified reasons, which include abandonment, long-term mental illness, long-term substance abuse, mental retardation or severe and repeated abuse.

Additionally, some states allow termination of parental rights if the parent is convicted of rape or sexual abuse or is required to register as a sex offender. Further, the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act requires, with few exceptions, that all states terminate parental rights if a parent has had no contact with a child in foster care for 15 to 22 months; if the child is an abandoned infant; or if a parent is convicted of murder, manslaughter or causing severe bodily harm to a child or the other parent of the child.

If a parent wishes to have his parental rights reinstated, it is best to hire legal counsel to handle the appeal. If the parent cannot afford a lawyer, he may ask the court to appoint an attorney to handle the case. Additionally, some states may reinstate parental rights if the child is old enough to request it or if the child has not been adopted in a reasonable period of time.