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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34316
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including family law.
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I need to know what the process for terminating parental

Customer Question

I need to know what the process for terminating parental rights in pa due to mental illness lolms
JA: Because family law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: looks like
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: Pennsylvania
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I have filed a petition to modify custody. After many years of domestic violence, trauma, and abuse, and only after my divorce I was hospitalized numerous times for mental illness
Submitted: 12 days ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
I have been consistently in counseling and under treatment. I recently went back to work as a stockbroker and have my adult son living with me. Due to abuse in my mothers home, I left three years ago. She battled me for the children, claiming that because I worked and had a boyfriend I should Not have them. Over the course of the last three years I have had two nervous breakdowns and have been 302. I have also cared for my children, worked and my youngest who is ten was voluntarily living with me the majority of the time.
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
My mother has of late been making my time with the children very difficult. Her abuse of me, alienation has grown since I went back to work and moved to a new apartment. Yesterday I filed a petition to modify custody. I am fearful that she will seek to terminate my parental rights based on my mental illness, which I believe was caused by her abuse. Prior to divorcing, I did not have these issues and my children were 16, 12, 9,6 and 3 when I divorced. I had cared for them primarily and they were all doing well.
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
After my divorce my parents began forcing me into ers for psychological evaluations. They do not believe in divorce and my mother is very controlling.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

Hi, My name is***** am an attorney with over 16 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

I want to make sure I understand...you mention that you are filing a request to modify custody. Who has custody currently? You and the father? You and your mom?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
If she files a petition to have my rights terminated will I have any recourse? Will the court allow me time to demonstrate my fitness? My youngest child is very attached to me
Customer: replied 12 days ago.
The father and I. Currently my mother has no legal rights
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

Thanks

What does the father think of all this? Does he have an opinion?

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
He is hardly involved
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

Thanks
It is possible for a court to terminate parental rights IF there is evidence that the parent is a clear danger to the child.

That said, what you are describing? I HIGHLY DOUBT any court would terminate your rights.

A few reasons why:

1. Mom has no standing. If mom has no legal rights to the children, she has no standing (no legal right) to request your rights be terminated. Dad could make this request (he has rights...so he has standing). But not your mom.

2. It is incredibly rare for a court to terminate parental rights. If there is evidence that the parent is a danger to the child, much more common is that the court will modify custody (for example, limit time with the children and require visits be supervised)

Now...mom could complain to child protection services and request they do an investigation...and they have the power to request that the court limit your rights. But your mom has no standing to remove your rights

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
She doesn't have standing even if they have lived with her? Does that make her a guardian ad litem
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

In order to have standing there would need to be a court order for guardianship...that is not what you have described. And even if she had a court ordered guardianship, there would need to be clear evidence that you are a danger to the children and that the danger is so great that all rights must be terminated...that is not going to happen based on what you have described. No how...no way...

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Would a suicide attempt while in my mothers home constitute a clear and present danger? I know I sound crazy and like an unfit parent but my mother was psychologically tormenting me, verbally abusing me, financially stressing me etc.
I'm really an intelligent person and a loving mother. I would be devastated not to have access to my children
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

No. It would not. If there was evidence you attempted to kill one or more of the children? OK...that would be enough. But having a mental health issue is NOT a basis to terminate your rights.

Period.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Ok one last question and just to clarify the statute in pa says long term mental illness is grounds but you are saying by definition that long term mental illness must be accompanied by a clear and present danger
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 12 days ago.

Mental health issues alone are not a basis to terminate rights.

Period.

There must be evidence that you are a danger. And not just some, remote danger. The court will only terminate your rights if there is clear evidence that with you spending time with the kids, they are in danger. Again, what you described I do not see it. I do not see a basis to terminate rights, even if you had attempted suicide in the past.

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

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