The termination of parental rights is integral to any Arizona adoption. While no adoption can be effected without such termination, the termination of parental rights doesn’t necessarily lead to adoption.
If you’re considering an Arizona adoption, it helps to understand the role that the termination of parental rights will play in the process.
Voluntary Vs. Involuntary Termination
The termination of parental rights can be either voluntary or involuntary.
A voluntary termination is usually a reasonably clear-cut process in which one or both the child’s parents choose to relinquish their parental rights. After the legal documents are executed, the child will either be appointed a guardian or placed in someone’s legal custody (or in the legal custody of an authorized agency). When parental rights are voluntarily terminated, the adoption process often proceeds relatively smoothly.
On the other hand, in an involuntary termination, a third party must petition a court to terminate parental rights. In order to do so, the court must determine that one or both parents are either unfit or that the child’s best interests are served by severing the relationship –usually based on health and safety concerns involving a range of determinative factors (that relate to one or both parents):
- The parent’s abandonment of the child;
- The parent’s failure to support or stay in contact with the child;
- The parent’s chronic abuse (physical or sexual) or neglect of the child;
- The parent’s debilitating mental disorder; or
- The parent’s felony conviction.
Termination of Parental Rights Requires Meeting a High Burden of Proof
The involuntary termination of parental rights is a complicated legal process, and even in extreme cases, the petitioner has specific burdens it must pursue before terminating this most basic right. A court may only terminate parental rights if it finds clear and convincing evidence that one of the accepted ground for termination exists.
Their burden includes exhausting all other viable options – such as alternate placement of the child and treatment and corrective services for the parent(s) in question.
If, however, the parent(s) who are at risk of having their parental rights terminated, don’t appear for their court date, the court will consider their absence an admission of the allegations outlined in the petition and may directly proceed with the termination.
The Importance Of Retaining An Attorney
The Arizona adoption process is complex but is an extremely worthwhile and gratifying pursuit. An experienced Arizona adoption attorney can help guide you on the path to opening your heart and your home to a new family member through adoption.
If you are a party who is considering seeking the involuntary termination of parental rights in order to adopt a child, it is essential that you retain an experienced lawyer. These cases are usually hotly contested and require the presentation of significant evidence to be successful.
Likewise, if you are a parent whose parental rights are being threatened, you need to do everything you can to ensure that your case is resolved as favorably as possible. If the allegations against you are completely unfounded, an attorney will usually be able to provide evidence of the frivolous nature of the action and have your case dismissed.
In the event that there is some merit to the claims made in the petition, a lawyer can often help parents take steps to establish that they are fit and that it is in the best interest of the child to remain with them.
Contact Stuart & Blackwell Today
Choosing to adopt is a momentous decision, and the experienced adoption attorneys at Stuart & Blackwell are here to help you every step of the way. Adoption is a complicated process, but our skilled legal team has the compassion and commitment to help you successfully navigate the legal intricacies and grow your family through adoption.
Contact us at 480-420-2900 for a free consultation today.