Terminations and Adoptions


Chapter 161 of the Texas Family Code (TFC) governs terminations. Terminations are either voluntary or involuntary.   The courts here in El Paso, Texas are very hesitant to allow for voluntary terminations.   That’s where the father or mother wants to terminate his or her own relationship with the children.  This is rare indeed. 

But, let’s suppose a parent of the child or children has had a very poor relationship with the child or children. This particular parent has little contact and has paid very child support.  So, the custodial wants to “get rid” of the parental rights of the other parent.  However, the courts here in El Paso must be absolutely sure that termination of the parent child relationship is in the best interest of the children.  Normally, the court will appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the parent whose parental rights are under fire and even an amicus attorney, as a friend of the court, to intervene and interface with the child or children in a given case.  The courts will give great deference to what these appointed attorneys recommend.  And, these independent counsel, must, on their own, be convinced that termination is in the best interest of the child or children.  The count will not terminate the parental rights of a person unless the court finds that by clear and convincing evidence that termination is proper. 

There are grounds for involuntary termination of a parent. Section 161.001 lists several grounds for involuntary termination. One or more of these grounds for involuntary termination must be pled and proven by clear and convincing evidence. 

A “stand-alone” termination is rare in the El Paso court system.  However, our office has handled occasional “stand-along” terminations and we can provide a consultation on the subject. 


 The more common terminations occur when the termination, whether voluntary or involuntary is combined with an adoption of the subject child or children. Oftentimes the court will hear the termination portion of a case, grant the termination and then immediately proceed to the adoption phase of the case.  Before granting an adoption the court must review the contents of a social study conducted by an agency or person appointed by the court to conduct the social study.  The court must also be shown a criminal background check on each of the petitioners seeking the adoption.  The court will also require that an amicus attorney participate in the hearing in which the adoption is being sought. A child who is age 12 or older must consent to the adoption. Adoption pleadings and orders are ordinarily sealed. 

Our office  has handled scores of adoption cases.  Please call us for a consultation before you move forward with a termination and adoption. There are several critical procedures to follow to make sure that an adoption cannot be reversed because the underlying termination was not conducted appropriately. 

Our experience has been that adoptions are a great blessing to children who are adopted by parties who truly love them. 

For more information or to schedule a consultation please contact our office at: (915) 593-6600 or (915) 256-0579. You can also email us directly at: doug@dsmithpllc.com or use our contact form to get in touch.