Kansas parents may lose parental rights in certain circumstances. They may also voluntarily give them up. Involuntary termination of parental rights may happen if the parent is abusive, cannot care for the child because of disability, has an alcohol or drug problem that interferes with the ability to care for the child, has been incarcerated, or if another child in the parent's care has died.
After the termination of parental rights, the child may not have a legal parent or guardian. If this is the case, the child might go into foster care. The federal Adoption and Safe Families Act requires a state to file a petition before parental rights can be terminated and the child placed in foster care, but there are a few situations in which this is not necessary. If a parent has killed or committed a serious felony assault on another of his or her children, if the child is an infant who has been abandoned or if the child has spent 15 of the previous 22 months in foster care, the petition requirement can be waived.
The court will take the best interests of the child into account when determining whether to terminate parental rights and making custody decisions. This means considering the child's safety along with other factors including the child's preference if mature enough to express one.
Other family members may apply for custody if parental rights are terminated. This can keep the child from entering the foster system. A judge will make a decision about custody using the same kind of criteria that would be used in a divorce case regarding the child's well-being. In some cases, if no family members are available, someone who is not a relative but who has a relationship with the child might also be able to get custody.