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Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Voluntary and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Parental Rights: Right of parent or parents of a child. Rights typically consist of physical possession/time with the child, right to handle disciplinary action of the child, right to control and/or manage any earnings of the child as well as any property belonging to the child, right to have a child bear parent’s name, right to prevent adoption without consent of parent, etc.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights: This occurs when a parent terminates his or her own rights in regards to their child. If a parent voluntarily terminates their own parental rights, they no longer have any responsibility for their child. Voluntary termination of parental rights often occurs in situations where the parent or parents are or feel unable to provide a safe, appropriate or stable environment for their child. In other instances, voluntary termination of parental rights may occur when an individual doesn’t feel ready to be a parent for a variety of reasons: age, lack of financial means, mental instability, simply the overwhelming prospect of being solely responsible for the care of an infant, etc. Voluntarily terminating parental rights is a life altering decision and mothers and/or fathers considering this should consider carefully while always attempting to keep the best interests of the child as their top priority.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights: Parental rights can be terminated involuntarily. This means that the parent does not want to give up their rights to the child, but that termination of their parental rights has been deemed in the best interests of the child or that the parent is unfit. This is a serious action that is not taken unless the court has serious grounds for their findings. Some circumstances that could lead the court to deeming a parent unfit and involuntarily terminating parental rights include:

  • “Extreme parental disinterest” exhibited by lack of visitation/contact or abandonment of the child.
  • Abuse of neglect of the child.
  • Proven mental illness of deficiency of the parent.
  • Incapacity to fulfill the parental role due to alcohol or drug use.
  • Felony conviction and/or the parent being in jail.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Felony assault by the parent towards the child or a sibling of the child.
  • Murder or manslaughter of the sibling of the child.

In order to terminate the rights of a parent or parents, there must be more than a conclusion that termination of parental rights may be in the child’s best interests. It must actually be shown to the court that continued parental custody or legal decision making and parenting time would actually be a detriment to the child. In this situation, parents may be judged unable or unfit to provide care for their own child. If this occurs, parental consent for adoption of the child is no longer necessary.

If you have questions or concerns regarding voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights, please get in touch as soon as possible with the experienced lawyers at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.

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