There are times when it is appropriate to pursue termination of parental rights in Arizona. Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. When a parent decides this is the best decision for the child’s well-being, there are a number of steps that need to occur. This is a permanent decision, and it is vital to understand the reasons the courts will grant the petition and the effect it will have on finances and visitation going forward.
Grounds for Termination of a Parent’s Rights
Either parent can seek to terminate parental rights in situations where the other parent has abandoned or abused the child. It is also possible if there is a history of substance abuse or a current addiction. Termination of rights can occur if the parent is currently incarcerated or has mental health issues. It can also occur when the child is placed in an adoptive home. Other reasons can include failure to file a paternity action, or when the child is under the care of a juvenile court. The full list of reasons and requirements are listed in Arizona Revised Statutes 8-533.
The Process of Terminating Parental Rights
It is imperative to adhere to statutory guidelines when filing for termination of parental rights. This includes supplying the appropriate evidence and adhering to filing schedules, form requirements, etc.
When pursuing an involuntary termination, the petitioner must establish that the petition is in the best interest of the child. This often requires completion of a social study. This study will examine the circumstances and determine if termination of parental rights is beneficial for the child.
Following the social study, the court will schedule an initial hearing if it is determined that there are sufficient grounds to move forward. It is the responsibility of the petitioner and their attorney to create copies of the petition. They must also serve notice of the proceedings to all interested parties. This includes the other parent, grandparents, the child’s guardian ad litem, tribal entities, etc.
Arizona law requires notification of parties within 10 days if they live in the state. It must be done within 30 days if the individual lives out-of-state. When the hearing occurs, the judge will examine the evidence and make a decision. If the court grants the request, it goes into effect without delay.
Voluntary termination is much simpler. This requires the parent to submit a consent form that voluntarily relinquishes their rights to the child. This form includes the parent’s personal details, the individual or entity the rights are relinquished to, and their statement acknowledging the full ramifications of relinquishing their parental rights. Once notarized and approved by the court, the termination of parental rights is complete.
Financial Obligations and Visitation Rights Following Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of parental rights does not always absolve the parent of their financial obligations to the child. It means that the parents rights related to visitation, consultation on healthcare, education, etc, are terminated. The court can order that the parent continue to pay child support or pursue any unpaid child support after the petition for termination is granted. Except in cases of adoption, termination of parental rights does not automatically relieve the parent of their duties.
As the circumstances change and evolve, it may be possible to restore parental rights. However, Arizona law allows for this to occur in very limited circumstances.
Simon Law Group, PLLC invites you to contact us at (480) 745-2450 to learn more about termination of parental rights in Arizona. It is our pleasure to answer your questions and help you determine the best course moving forward.