Termination of parental rights

The termination of parental rights may be voluntary (when a parent chooses to place their child up for adoption) or involuntary.  Under Michael J. v. Arizona Dept. of Econ. Sec., 196 Ariz. 246 (2000), if the parental rights are being involuntarily terminated, the court must find:

·         The parents are unfit by clear and convincing evidence; and

·         Termination of parental rights is the in the child’s best interest.

The most common ground to base an involuntary termination action is unfitness of the parent.  A parent is deemed unfit if any of the following conditions are present:

·         Severe or chronic abuse or neglect;

·         Abandonment of the child;

·         Long-term illness or deficiency of the parent;

·         Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent;

·         Abuse or neglect of other children in the household;

·         Felony conviction or incarceration;

·         Failure to establish paternity;

·         Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child;

·         Felony assault of child or sibling;

·         Sexual Abuse; or

·         Failure of Reasonable Efforts.

Under A.R.S. § 8-533, any person or agency with a legitimate interest in the welfare of a child can file an action providing they have sufficient grounds to base their claim.  Some common people and agencies that petition for termination of parental rights are:

·         Relatives;

·         Foster parents;

·         Physicians/nurses;

·         Arizona Child Protective Services; or

·         Privately licensed child welfare agency.

Sometimes private parties bring these petitions, but most often they are brought by the Department of Economic Security in cases where the Department of Child Safety has been involved.  The Berkshire Law Firm has experience in private termination cases and can discuss with you the grounds for a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights, the process, and whether your case qualifies.

Most parental rights are terminated in order to allow the child to be either placed for adoption to an outside individual or to be legally adopted by a step-parent.  If you have not had contact with the other parent for a certain period of time, then your case may qualify.

Contact us to setup a consultation and determine whether you can terminate an uninvolved parent's rights