Involuntary termination, on the other hand, must be petitioned for and then decided upon by the courts, who must determine through clear and convincing evidence that the parent(s) is/are unfit, or that severing the relationship is in the best interest of the child (i.e. for reasons of safety and health). Termination of parental rights in Arizona may also apply to only one parent, annulling the possibility for adoption as the child remains in the unaffected parent’s care.
Ground for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Although involuntary termination of parental rights is possible under Arizona divorce laws, the courts will only involuntarily terminate parental rights in extreme cases. Several determining factors must be taken into account, including, but not limited to:
- Chronic physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect
- Parent(s) with debilitating mental disorder
- Abandonment of the child
- Felony convictions committed by a parent
- Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent
- Murder or manslaughter of a sibling child
- Failure to establish paternity
Even in extreme circumstances, Arizona parental rights laws dictate that the State must first have exhausted all other placement, treatment, and corrective options before settling on the termination of parental rights in Arizona. During the proceedings, if the parent(s) being considered for termination do not appear in court, it is considered an admission of guilt and the termination will be enacted (A.R.S. § 8-863(C)).
Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination
Although Arizona divorce laws will always take into account the best interest of the child in cases of divorce, terminating parental rights because a parent does not pay child support or does not adhere to the visitation schedule are usually not considered proper circumstances.
Furthermore, parental rights in Arizona may be reinstated under certain circumstances. For example, if the child is in state care and doesn’t get placed in a reasonable amount of time, the parent can petition to reinstate their parental rights as long as they can prove a safe environment will be provided.
Although this serves as a brief outline surrounding the laws and circumstances of involuntary termination of parental rights, it is important to obtain clear guidance and understanding of the complex and detailed legal factors that apply to such cases—whether as the result of divorce or otherwise. Craig Simon is an Arizona attorney with over 30 years’ experience in family law, and as the founder of Simon Law Group of AZ, he and his skilled team can streamline and clarify each process—including those that surround both your own parental rights, and the pros and cons of relinquishing the parental rights of another. For 24-hour professional legal assistance, or to set up a free consultation with a Simon Law Group family attorney in Phoenix, please call 480-745-2450 or contact our firm.