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When could a parent lose his or her parental rights?

Most parents want to spend as much time as possible with their children, but sometimes a parent's behavior will interfere with the best interests and health of the child. In these circumstances, no matter how much the potentially dangerous parent may wish to see his or her child, a court may choose to strip the parent of his or her parental, custody and visitation rights.

Here are the circumstances under which a California court may choose to make the difficult decision to deny someone his or her legal rights as a parent:

Severe or chronic abuse: When a parent has abused or neglected a child in a severe and repeated manner, the parent could lose all custody of the child -- even the right to supervised child visits. Abuse and neglect of other children who live in the household could also result in a similar penalty.

Sexual abuse: Parents convicted of sexual abuse against the child, another family member or anyone else may lose parental rights.

Abandonment: Parents who abandon their children or fail to maintain contact with or support for them may be viewed as a danger to those children.

Mental illness of the parent: In sad circumstances in which a parent is deemed to be mentally unstable, a court may choose to deny the parent custody rights, especially if it believes the parent is a danger to the child.

Long-term substance abuse: Whether the abuse involves drugs or alcohol, a court could act to shield a child from exposure to a parent who struggles with dependency issues.

In some cases, California judges may still wish for children to spend time with some parents accused of the above. Therefore will award supervised visits with the parent. Whatever your circumstances, if you're a parent who could lose parental rights or who wants to protect your children from a potentially dangerous co-parent, you may want to learn more about your California child custody rights.

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