February 21, 2017
If your child’s other parent has not been involved in your child’s life, of you are interested in adopting a child that has lived with you for a long period of time, you may be able to terminate a parent’s rights.
In order to terminate a parent’s rights, among other possibilities, some of the most common allegations you have to be able to prove are one of the following: the parent abused or neglected the juvenile; the parent has, for a period of one year or more preceding the filing of the petition, willfully failed without justification to pay for the care, support and education of the child; the parent is incapable of providing for the proper care and supervision of the child, such that the child is a dependent juvenile and there is a reasonable probability that such incapability will continue for the foreseeable future; or the parent has willfully abandoned the juvenile for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the petition.
If the actions of the non-involved parent meet one of the criteria above, it may be beneficial to file for a termination of parental rights. One of the benefits of the termination of parental rights is that the child can then be adopted by another person without having to get the consent of the non-involved parent. In most cases, a termination of parental rights is filed so that a step-parent can then adopt their spouse’s child.
One of the cons of filing a termination of parental rights is that your child will no longer be able to inherit under the parent’s estate whose rights have been terminated. While this is usually not an issue that prevents people from filing for a termination, it is something to keep in mind that could affect your child down the road.
As far as the procedure for terminating a parents’ rights, a petition must first be filed and served on the opposing party. The opposing party, whose rights you are trying to terminate, has the right to a court-appointed attorney. A pre-trial hearing is then held, where any pre-trial issues and motions are determined before a Judge. Once this occurs, the adjudication of the termination of parental rights is held, which is the actual hearing to determine if there can be a termination. The Judge first determines if the grounds for a termination of parental rights has been proven (see list above for various allegations you can prove). If the Judge does in fact determine that grounds have been proven to terminate the parent’s rights, the Judge then determines if it is in the child’s best interests to terminate the parent’s rights. In order to decide this, a judge looks at the following: the age of the juvenile, the likelihood of adoption of the juvenile, whether the termination of parental rights will aid in the accomplishment of the permanent plan for the juvenile, the bond between the juvenile and the parent, the quality of the relationship between the juvenile and the proposed adoptive parent, guardian, custodian, or other permanent placement, and any other relevant considerations. If the judge finds that it is in the child’s best interests, then the judge will terminate the parent’s rights.
If you are interested in seeing if you can terminate a parent’s rights, contact our office today and we will be glad to assist you.