A Crash Course on TPR (in our experience)

By popular demand: a crash course on the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) process (disclaimer: this is based on our experience, your mileage may vary). For the vast, vast, vast majority of children that come into care, the initial goal is reunification with the parents. For a multitude of reasons, the goal may at some point change to TPR & Adoption. (Updated 11.27.14: now that we’ve done this a couple of times, I have more information.)

  • DCF or GAL requests a change of goal to TPR/Adoption
  • The judge asks the other attorneys (DCF, GAL and parents’ attorneys) their position on the change
  • The judge may order the change of goal. If not, continue current case plan; lather, rinse, repeat
  • If judge approves TPR/Adoption goal, an Advisory hearing is set for approximately 45 days later
  • At the Advisory hearing, if it’s not continued*, each bio parent has the following options:
    • Fail to show up for the hearing. In this case, their parental rights are terminated by default. This is considered an involuntary termination (this is a surprisingly popular option).
    • Show up and voluntarily surrender their child. This is a no-take-backs situation. The judge takes the time to make certain the parent knows what is happening and that they can’t change their mind later and hasn’t been promised anything, blah, blah, blah.
      • If a bio parent nos-shows the Advisory hearing or voluntarily surrenders, a Disposition hearing is set for 2-3 weeks later At this hearing the termination/surrender is “dispo’d” or finalized and and that bio parent has no further rights to the child. 
    • Show up and contest the termination. Then a date is set for TPR Pre-trial and TPR Hearing.
      • If they lose at the hearing, their parental rights are involuntarily terminated.
      • If they don’t show up for the hearing, their parental rights are involuntarily terminated.
      • If they no-show or lose the TPR trial, the case is typically “dispo’d” immediately.
  • After dispo, there is a 30-day appeal period for involuntary termination of parental rights
*Why might it be continued, you ask? I’m sure there are myriad reasons. The State of Florida prefers not to terminate the rights of one parent while leaving the other parent’s rights intact.

There are exceptions, when one parent presents a demonstrable threat to the child and the other parent lives out of state and is trying to get a homestudy done, is one example I’ve heard. But in the normal course of business, the State prefers to sever all parental rights at the same time. For this reason, if one parent surrenders, but the other wants a trial, the surrender will not be “dispo’d” until the second parent’s rights are terminated. Also for this reason, if the bio father has not been identified, the Advisory hearing can continued. – How many times can it be continued? I’ll have to get back to you…


  1. Aiuea

    Wow… so not what I was expecting. The UBC is awesome. It’s opening up my world to so many new topics. God bless you and your family for all you do! Kathi

    1. Duck Mommy

      Sorry for the confusion. 🙂 I guess I could’ve been a little more descriptive. 🙂 Trust me, we are truly blessed by our foster ducklings! Thanks for reading.

  2. Sara Duggan

    Funny, when I read the title of this on UBC, I thought they were actually ducks. LOL

    I’ve never been through the process of adoption or foster care so don’t know what you are going through.

    I know people who have gone through it and I can only imagine the emotional roller coaster ride you are on.

    Definitely praying for you. I must say that I’m always on the side of the parents as my outlook always has faith that people will change. Hopefully the father is doing this out of love for him and not some other reason.

    1. Tamalamadingdong

      I also thought this post was going to be about ducks… so much more fulfilling!

    2. Duck Mommy

      Trust me, we are definitely fans of reunification, when possible. One of the big reasons we are foster parents is to reassure bio-parents that their children are safe, happy and loved while they work themselves out.

      Unfortunately, not everyone wants to change….

      Thanks for reading!

  3. K'Lee Banks

    I’m also stopping by, thanks to the UBC and Facebook! What an amazing story and God bless you for all you do for these precious children! I’ll be praying for God’s favor in your current situation, that all will go according to His ongoing plans for your lives! 🙂

    1. Duck Mommy

      We certainly appreciate the prayers – can’t get enough of those. We mostly pray for the wisdom to provide our ducklings with what they need to face whatever comes. And we pray for the strength and grace to accept God’s will in our lives, and the comfort to accept that His plans are greater than ours.

    2. Duck Mommy

      Oh, and thanks for reading! 🙂


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