Adoption is a beautiful choice for growing a family, and there are few endeavors that are as rewarding or fulfilling when successfully accomplished. When the choice to adopt is made, however, there are some important legal considerations that need to be addressed, including the termination of parental rights for the child’s birth parents.

This can be a complicated issue that is crucial to the adoption process and that necessitates experienced legal guidance. If rights are not properly terminated, it can result in the reversal of an adoption, which could be traumatic for everyone involved.

As a result, anyone considering adoption should speak to an attorney prior to starting the adoption process to ensure that their legal rights are protected.

Termination of Parental Rights in Arizona

To proceed with an adoption in Arizona, the birth parents’ parental rights toward the child must first be terminated, either by consent or via a court order.

This process may be either voluntary or involuntary, and Arizona law requires that in order to terminate parental rights, it must first be determined that statutory grounds for termination exist and that termination is in the child’s best interests.

The grounds for the termination of parental rights in Arizona are as follows:

  • The child was abandoned by the parent;
  • The child was neglected or willfully abused by the parent (or knowingly placed in a situation in which the child could be neglected or willfully abused);
  • The child’s parent is unable to fulfill parental responsibilities due to mental illness or chronic abuse of dangerous drugs and/or alcohol;
  • The child’s parent has been convicted of a felony of such nature or of such duration of incarceration that it precludes fit parenting;
  • The child’s putative father failed to file the requisite Paternity Action and/or Notice of Claim of Paternity within the prescribed time limitations (more than one potential paternity further complicates the process);
  • A named potential father failed to file a claim of paternity within 30 days of being served with an Arizona Potential Father’s Notice
    • The child’s parents have relinquished their rights to an adoption agency or have consented to the adoption
    • The child is being cared for by a licensed child welfare agency that has diligently attempted to provide the appropriate family reunification services and certain other circumstances exist
  • The child’s parent is unknown after three months of diligent identification efforts; and
  • The child’s parent had parental rights for another child terminated for the same cause within the preceding two years and is currently unable to discharge his or her parental responsibilities because of that cause
  • The child was cared for in an out-of-home placement pursuant to a court order, the agency responsible for the care of the child made diligent efforts to provide appropriate reunification services, the child was return to the parent, and the child is removed from the home again within 18 months

If There Is A Legal Issue Related To The Termination Of Parental Rights, Get An Attorney

Legal issues related to the termination of parental rights are often extremely contested and can take months or even years to resolve. In addition, considering what is at stake, it is extremely important that anyone involved in a case in which parental rights are at issue retain legal counsel as soon as possible.

Here are some of the ways an attorney can help, regardless of whether the goal is to preserve existing parental rights or petition the court to terminate them:

  • A lawyer will evaluate the case and determine the best course of action to pursue
  • If litigation is the best choice, a lawyer will gather evidence in support of the proposed position and present it to the court in a way to which the judge will be responsive
  • A lawyer can help to advise an individual regarding actions that could be taken while a case is pending that may help to obtain a favorable result
  • An attorney can help preserve issues for appeal and file appeal if the case is not resolved favorably

These are just some of the ways that a lawyer can help to resolve a termination of parental rights case, and the specific things that an attorney will do depend on individual circumstances.

If You Are Interested in an Arizona Adoption, Call Stuart & Blackwell Today

If you are considering an Arizona adoption, it’s an exciting time for you, but it can also be legally complicated. At Stuart & Blackwell, we’re here to guide you, and we have the experience and the dedication to help your adoption go smoothly.

Give us a call at (480) 420 2900 for a free initial consultation.