How Does Involuntary Termination Of Parental Rights Occur In Arizona?
Involuntary termination of parental rights can occur if there is abandonment, neglect, abuse, crime, incarceration, and the inability to discharge parental responsibilities due to mental illness, deficiency, or drugs. The Department of Child Safety can also prompt an involuntary termination of parental rights. If there’s a previous termination or the child has been out of home for a time, that can be grounds for involuntary termination. The only real voluntary ground is the act of relinquishing parental rights.
The steps for going through a termination can get complicated very quickly. It starts by filing a petition and documents with the court. The documents state the reasons for severing parental rights. The Department of Child Safety may also need to get involved so that they can do their own private investigation. Once the document filed is filed, a court date will be set eventually.
If the parent can be found, they have to be notified of the court hearing. Efforts to find the parent have to be made, if possible. Afterward, a series of hearings take place. The hearings can change depending on whether the parent shows up. In general, the hearings will start with the filing of a motion in front of a court and showing up at the first hearing. On a very quick case, there will be at least one to three more hearings. Unfortunately, after the first filing, it can get very complicated. There is no set pattern. If a parent shows up, they can argue that their rights shouldn’t be terminated. That could set a path that ends up in a trial to terminate parental rights. That could be six to nine months down the road. Otherwise, if a parent does not show up after a motion has been filed, a publication has to be done.
A publication states that efforts have been made to find a parent with no luck. Everything that could have been done under the law was conducted. That sets off another hearing. At the hearing, the judge could terminate the parental rights.
What Are Some Situations Where Parents Will Voluntarily Terminate Their Rights?
Parents usually terminate their own rights or allow a termination of their rights when there is a situation they cannot control. For instance, a child could be living with his or her grandparents if the parent has a problem. If a parent has a mental illness or drug addiction, but has enough clarity to know they can’t care for their child, they can voluntarily terminate their rights and give custody to the grandparents. They can relinquish their rights and the grandparents can adopt the child.
Another common situation in which a parent will voluntarily terminate their rights is when they are absent from the child’s life. If the other parent is remarrying or wants to make the child legally free of the parent who’s absent, they’ll go find that parent and ask them to give up their rights. The parent typically concedes.
Are Parental Rights Automatically Terminated If A Child Is Placed For Adoption?
When a child is placed for adoption, the parental rights are terminated. In order for a child to be free for adoption or cleared for adoption, there cannot be any parental rights in place. As a standard, whether parental rights were terminated voluntarily or involuntarily, the judge at the termination hearing will say, “These rights are terminated. You can request another hearing for adoption.” It would be extremely rare to have the termination of parental rights and adoption immediately back-to-back in the same hearing. Instead, the child would have the rights to their parents stripped away and a new court hearing would be set in the near future for an adoption.
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