Petition to Terminate Parental Rights
How to Terminate Parental Rights
Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily, usually to facilitate adoption, or involuntarily in cases where a parent is ruled not fit or not acting in the best interests of a child. The process is complicated and can be extremely stressful and time consuming. With patience and a sold knowledge of the legal system, however, you can get successfully terminate parental rights.
Terminating Rights Voluntarily
Learn the consequences of terminating your rights.Before you decide to voluntarily give up parental rights, understand the consequences of this decision. Terminating parental rights has fairly serious legal repercussions and it's not a decision that should be made lightly.
- All rights and responsibilities regarding your parenthood will be terminated once parental rights are terminated. If you volunteer your rights, you'll have no input regarding the child's education, religion, upbringing, location, and any other factors regarding the child. You will also not be legally guaranteed any kind of custody or visitation.
- If you want your co-parent to terminate the rights to your child, understand your co-parent will no longer have obligations to support the child financially or otherwise. You cannot seek child support or visitation from your co-parent once his or her rights are terminated.
Talk to a family law attorney.Courts will not grant voluntary termination unless parents can objectively prove this is in the best interest of the child. Judges are generally hesitant to terminate parental rights, even if they're being given up voluntarily. Consult a family law attorney to figure out how to best argue for the termination of parental rights.
- Many people want to terminate parental rights simply because they do not want to financially support the child. This is very rarely considered solid grounds to terminate parental rights. Do not file a petition under this grounds, as it will likely be denied.
- You also cannot terminate rights simply because you're life is difficult and you do not have time for a child. Remember, the court's ultimate goal is to act in the child's best interest. Most judges will think, unless it's absolutely not possible, you should strive to incorporate your child into your life despite difficulty.
- A family law attorney can talk to you about your reasons for wanting to terminate your rights. He or she can help you draft a strong statement illustrating why giving up your parental rights is in the child's best interest. This may mean admitting to fault on your part. If you do not believe you are a fit parent, the court will want to know why and you might have to disclose uncomfortable personal information that you feel disqualifies you for parental rights.
File a petition.You will have to file a petition to your local court requesting a hearing to determine parental rights. Petitions of this nature can be fairly lengthy, so make sure you fill it out completely.
- Precise laws and forms for filing a petition vary state-by-state. For the most part, however, you'll need to provide basic information such as your name, date of birth, social security number, and other identifying facts you would include on most legal documents and tax forms.
- Where to file the petitions varies state-by-state. Some states will allow you to file the petition at a local courthouse or county clerk office while others require the document be brought to an office of Child Protective Services. You can find out where to file your petition by talking to your attorney or browsing your state's government website.
Go before court.A hearing will take place before a judge that will determine whether or not your rights will be legally terminated. You may be asked to make a statement to the court or judge. Talk to your attorney about whether or not making such a statement would be beneficial to you and, if so, what you should say. Dress appropriately for the hearing, in professional attire, and be respectful of the judge. Do not try to "prove" your unfit nature as a parent by showing up to court slovenly and behaving poorly. This will not necessarily help your case and might result in legal trouble, such as being held in contempt of court.
Be prepared for the petition to be denied.Understand judges and courts are very, very unlikely to terminate parental rights. The consensus in the legal community is that terminating rights is rarely in the best interest of a child. If your petition is denied, talk to your attorney about how to appeal the decision. Requirements for appeals vary state by state.
Terminating Rights Involuntarily
Learn the circumstances under which parental rights can be terminated.If you're trying to involuntarily terminate someone else's parental rights, this can only be done under certain circumstances. While these do vary to a degree state-by-state, the majority of US states will grant termination if the following circumstances are met:
- Abandonment, which means failure to have contact with the child for over 6 months with no excuse
- Neglect, meaning basic needs like food, shelter, water, and health are not met
- Failing to support the child financially, meaning child support payments or other forms of financial support were not paid
- Egregious harm, meaning the child was hurt badly in the care of a parent
- Serious criminal conviction, meaning certain crimes, usually felonies involving harming children, can result in parental rights being terminated
File a termination petition.Much like voluntarily terminating rights, you need to file a petition to have rights involuntarily removed. Where and how to file petitions vary from state-to-state.
- You can file a petition through Child Protective Services. This is called a CHIPS petition (Child in Need of Protective Services). You can also file a petition independently if you believe your co-parent is endangering your child and want his or her rights terminated.
- You will need basic information about yourself and the parent whose rights you're terminating. This information includes name, address, place of birth, social security number, and other details you would typically provide on tax or legal documents.
Consult a family law attorney.You should consult a family law attorney throughout the entire process. Terminating parental rights can be difficult and, if rights are being terminated involuntarily, legal battles can get stressful and ugly. A family law attorney can protect from personal attacks in court and help you gather the evidence necessary to prove another parent is unfit.
Gather evidence and witnesses.Once your petition is approved, a hearing will be scheduled. In the time leading up to that hearing, gather evidence to make your case against the other parent.
- You must prove some of the above listed grounds for termination occurred. If your filing under grounds of abandonment, for example, you must be able to prove the other parent has had no contact with the child for six months. If you're filing under the grounds of a serious crime, you can legally obtain police reports and court hearings as evidence for your case.
- Certain grounds are harder to prove than others and witness testimony could help. If the other parent has endangered the child through recreational drug use but never formerly charged with a crime, you could bring in a witness who saw the parent drinking heavily or ingesting pills in the child's presence.
- It can be difficult to maintain objectivity in custody cases. Remember, your emotional reaction is not grounds to terminate custody. You have to prove this is in the child's best interest. Your attorney can help you determine what kind of evidence will and will not help your case.
Attend all necessary hearings.There may be many hearings, and even trials, when dealing with involuntarily terminating custody. You'll need to attend all hearings and behave in a calm, collected professional manner. Custody hearings can go on for months, even years, and the process can be expensive and exhausting. Make sure you seek professional support from your attorney and emotional support from friends and family members during this time.
Prepare for setbacks.Courts are usually very hesitant to terminate parental rights. You'll likely be met with a lot of resistance, especially if rights are being terminated against the will of another parent. You can prepare for set backs by doing the following:
- Be aware you may be personally attacked in court. Your motivations will be called into question and the other parents attorney may use past mistakes against you. Review all your past conduct carefully to try and prepare emotionally for the impact of harsh cross examination.
- Thoroughly review the appeals process in your state. There is a good chance rights will not be terminated in the first hearing, so make sure you're prepared to appeal the decision. The appeals process varies state-by-state, so talk to your attorney on how to appeal and how to better your chances of success in a second trial or hearing.
Terminating Rights for Adoption Purposes
Learn about the rules regarding foster care.Rules and regulations about foster care vary from state-to-state. When, where, and if you can have parental rights terminated as a foster parent depends on a number of factors.
- In some states, biological parents can voluntarily terminate parental rights in the event their child finds a loving home. Such petitions are much more likely to be accepted than typical voluntarily terminations of rights as the child in question has a safe, alternative environment away from his biological parents.
- You can petition to get the rights of biological parents voluntarily terminated in most states. However, the process is complicated and you must make sure the child's safety is at risk. The same grounds, such as abandonment and child endangerment, must be met to terminate a co-parents rights involuntarily.
- Parental rights are sometimes terminated if a child is placed in foster care. However, this is up to a judge and likelihood of this occurring varies from state to state. Talk to an attorney if you're considering foster care so you can understand your rights.
Give up your rights voluntarily.If you're putting a child up for adoption, you can opt to voluntarily give up your rights. While the process to do so is somewhat lengthy, if your child is in the care of responsible adoptive parents your petition will more than likely be approved by a judge. If you're giving up a child for adoption at birth, many states have a waiting period before you can voluntarily give up your rights. This is to assure you're certain of your decision and prepared for the legal consequences of giving up parental rights.
Have someone's parent rights terminated involuntarily.In the event you're trying to adopt a child and the rights of the biological parents are in the way, you can have that parent's rights terminated involuntarily. This usually occurs when a new spouse wants to adopt a child from a previous marriage or relationship. Like any other cases of involuntary termination, you must prove the biological parent is unfit. The process is much the same as the above outlined method of involuntarily terminating parental rights.
QuestionHow can I prove CPS allowed my ex to buy my kids?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerContact your attorney for advice.Thanks!
QuestionIf my rights have been terminated can I get my children with my ex-husband's signed permission to take them to a different state to be in my wedding?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAs long as your ex-husband has legal custody he can grant permission for the children to visit you. Be sure to get it in writing, though.Thanks!
QuestionI want to file for emancipation, how do I do this?Top AnswererResearch how to do this in your state. You mostly need to not be financially supported by your parents for a certain amount of time. Keep in mind you cannot be emancipated if you live under their roof and if they provide you with necessities. You can't just get emancipation if they don't allow you to do something you want to do.Thanks!
If a parent lives far away, has only seen the child a few times and never financially supported him, is that grounds to terminate parental rights?
Parental rights have been terminated, can the parent still have contact after court deemed "terminatedf"?
Is there a good chance to get a parents rights terminated if they haven't been involved in the child's life for close to 10 years and if the child agrees to the adoption?
Who do I contact to find out why a parents rights were terminated?
Video: Legal Expert Offers Advice For Father Who Says He Wants To Terminate His Parental Rights
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