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What is the Process for Terminating Parental Rights?

What is the Process for Terminating Parental Rights?

The termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. If a parent wants to terminate their rights it is surprisingly difficult because a child has a right to have a parental relationship with both parents as well as financial support and care from both parents. Involuntary termination of parental rights by a Court is usually connected to misconduct by one of the parents (including abandonment). Each state has a statue that allows for either involuntary or voluntary termination of a parent/child relationship.

Requirements for Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

In most states there are laws in place that will require consent of both parents to terminate parental rights. The custodial parent as well as the parent whose rights are to be terminated will have to be involved with the assistance of a family law attorney. The child’s interest in the termination must be represented so the court will appoint a attorney, or a “Guardian Ad Litem” once the petition to terminate is filed. The courts must find “good cause” to terminate parental rights. There is no guarantee that the termination will be granted just because both parents agree and feel it in the best interest of the child.

The reason behind the request for voluntary parental termination must be made known to the court before any decision will be considered. Termination is only granted after the court finds “good cause” because the court wants the child to have the benefit of having both parents involved in their life. The most common reasons for requesting termination include: 1) a parent wants to end his/her financial obligation and/or child support; and 2) one parent wants to have the other parent completely removed from the life of the child. Neither of these reasons are usually enough to constitute “good cause” for the termination. The courts will typically only approve voluntary termination of parental rights if adoption (most commonly by a step-parent) of the child will follow.

If you have questions about termination of parental rights or the consequences of doing so, please get in touch with one of our experienced lawyers here at Arizona Family Law Attorneys. We can help you through the process.

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