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How parental rights are terminated in Missouri

41824638_S.jpgIf a Missouri resident wishes to petition the court to have another person's parental rights terminated, a juvenile officer must be notified. The officer will look into the information provided and conduct an initial investigation. If the information does not warrant further proceedings, the individual will be notified that the petition will not be filed with the court. The person who filed then has 30 days to take further action.

If that person decides to take up the matter with a judge, that judge may decide that the information does warrant further investigation into the matter. He or she may ask that a juvenile officer investigate again or actually go through with filing the petition. The officer must generally file a petition or asked to be made a party to an already-filed petition if the child is an abandoned infant.

A child will be considered abandoned if it is left without parental care or if there is no means to identify the child. Parents who are convicted of murder, manslaughter or a violent felony against a child or the other parent may also lose their parental rights.

When making a ruling about parental rights, a court will generally need to take the best interest of the child into consideration. In some cases, past instances of abuse may not lead to a full termination of a parent's rights. Legal counsel may be able to help a custodial parent establish that he or she should have full custody to protect the child. Custodial parents may also ask that limited rights be granted to the other parent.

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