If you believe your child is in danger from your co-parent, you may be able to pursue a termination of parental rights. Arizona courts generally approach every division of parenting rights with the assumption that both parents should play equal parts in their child’s upbringing, but they also make their decisions based on the best interests of the child, which means that you may be able to make a case for a termination of parental rights. Here is everything you need to know about terminating a co-parent’s rights.
Deciding Whether Termination of Parental Rights Is an Option
First of all, you and your family law attorney will need to determine whether termination of parental rights is appropriate in your circumstances. The Arizona courts will generally only agree to a complete termination of rights if there is a compelling reason why the child would be endangered by that parent. For instance, the courts will agree to termination in cases of:
- Neglect or physical abuse, either by the parent or by another person while the parent had knowledge of it
- Substance abuse
- Mental illness
- Long-term incarceration
- Removal from the home by the authorities twice in an 18-month period
Remember, the court’s ultimate goal is to provide for the best interests of the child, so if you can prove in court that your co-parent is unable to perform the duties of a parent, you may be able to terminate their parental rights.
How To Terminate Parental Rights in Arizona
If you believe you have a strong enough case to terminate your co-parent’s rights, the next step is to get a good lawyer. An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the process, file the forms correctly, and make a strong case in court. Remember, the success of the case hinges upon being able to prove without a doubt in court that it’s in the best interests of the child that the parent’s rights are terminated, so it’s important to have legal help to guide you through the entire process.
- File a petition. The very first step is to file a petition for termination of parental rights. It’s important to have your lawyer involved from the very beginning, because the court will review your petition and dismiss it if they don’t see enough reason to move forward with the case.
- Set a hearing. If the courts decide to hear your case, they’ll set a hearing.
- Serve the paperwork. It will be your responsibility to serve the paperwork to notify the parent of the hearing. You will need to notify them at least a certain number of days before the hearing to give them time to prepare, 10 days before the hearing for Arizona residents, and 30 days for an out-of-state parent.
- Attend the hearing. At the hearing, your attorney will present the case for terminating the parent’s rights, and the court will decide. The stronger and better prepared your case is, the more likely it will succeed.
Building a Strong Case for Termination of Parental Rights
The important thing to remember when building a case is that you will need to be able to convince the court that termination is in the child’s best interest. To do this, you’ll need to prove that the parent is either unable to fulfill their role, or an actual danger to the child. Having a good lawyer will be paramount in building a successful case. To consult with an experienced family law attorney regarding your individual situation, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.