California Family Law: The Termination of Parental Rights

Termination of Parental Rights

If parents fail to take their responsibilities seriously or put their children in harm’s way, they may be subject to an action to terminate their parental rights. This means that the adult will no longer have a say in how the child is raised, and all of the rights and obligations associated with being a parent will be terminated.

Termination is permanent unless that parent meets very stringent standards under California law. In addition, reversing the termination can only apply if no one adopts your child after the juvenile court has terminated your rights. As a result, for all practical purposes, termination is rarely reversed.

Termination often comes up in the context of adoption, abandonment, or situations where the child is not safe with a parent. Termination of parental rights can be either involuntary or voluntary.

Situations that Warrant Termination of Parental Rights

In cases where a parent has not been involved in their child’s life and has declined to provide financial support, you may be able to petition to have their parental rights terminated. If the parent has not exercised his or her parental rights in at least six months, that is also grounds to have parental rights terminated in California.

California law provides several reasons that termination of parental rights may be appropriate. These include:

  • Abandonment of the child
  • Neglect or cruelty
  • Parents have disabilities related to alcohol, controlled substances, or moral depravity
  • The parent has been convicted of a felony
  • The parent has been declared developmentally disabled or mentally ill

In any of these circumstances, parental rights can be terminated for one or both parents, depending on the situation.

How to Start the Termination of Parental Rights Process

You must file a petition with the court to begin the termination of parental rights process if the termination is contested. The parent will be able to defend his or her right to have their parental rights and show the court that he or she is a fit parent, and able to support their child. This is usually done through filing a response to the petition and in a hearing in front of the court.

You will also be required to file a petition if the other parent cannot be found or is unknown. Adoption proceedings may need this type of court approval process.

Voluntary parental right termination is a much easier and faster process that simply requires filing some paperwork with the court. Voluntary termination often takes place in the context of a stepparent adoption, but it can also arise in a variety of circumstances.

Getting Legal Help with Termination of Parental Rights Actions

Whether you have petitioned for termination or you are defending a petition, getting legal help can only help your case. Contact the Law Offices of Kayleene H. Writer, PLC for more information.