Parental Rights Termination FAQ

There are many responsibilities and rights to anyone who has a child. Parents have the obligatory responsibility to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare, and entertainment to their children. Education and religion are also important decisions that parents have the right to make for their children. These rights and responsibilities and how parents handle them are what make parent-child relationships so important. However, there are many situations, especially during divorce, where these relationships fall apart and need to be terminated. Terminating parental rights is quite complicated and confusing, so we have listed common questions most of our clients have when considering to terminate the parental rights of their ex-spouse. 

What is the termination of parental rights?

In its most basic terms, the termination of parental rights is when the court legally ends a parent-child relationship. The rights we mentioned above, such as making major decisions about their well-being, education, or religion, are dissolved. The parent no longer has any rights or responsibilities to their child.

Different reasons for terminating parental rights

Neglect and abuse are the most common reasons why a parent involuntarily relinquishes their rights over their child. Another reason would be if a parent fails to claim paternity and doesn’t provide child support, they will find that Utah courts are likely to terminate their parental rights. There’s also the case of voluntary termination; this is when a parent decides to give up their parental rights voluntarily. The majority of the time that a parent voluntarily terminates their rights is due to severe mental illness, chronic or terminal illness or financial instability. 

Can you terminate your ex-spouse’s parental rights?

You can. Any spouse can file in an effort to terminate parental rights. However, the reason plays a crucial part in the order presented to the court. There are situations where critical events unfold and there needs to be immediate termination; such as sexual or physical abuse. It is not a legitimate reason for a spouse to file to terminate parental rights based solely on the fact that they don’t get along. It’s never a good idea to sever a parent-child relationship for illegitimate reasons. 

What happens after termination?

When parental rights are terminated, the child will go into foster care and await adoption. Often, the court will try to find a next of kin (grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another relative) to avoid these situations.

Can parental rights be reinstated after termination?

In most states, reinstating parental rights is not allowed. Courts will remind the parent of the violations that caused the filing to go through and that it was meant as a permanent solution. The chances of reversing a court order like these are very slim. 

How does a termination impact the child?

As expected, terminating parental rights can be quite traumatizing for any child. A child that’s going through this process is struggling with issues of abandonment, abuse, and neglect. It’s vital to build a strong support system for any child that is cut off from a parent.

What does ‘best interest of the child’ mean?

Courts make every decision with the best interest of the child in mind. They weigh every factor such as education, healthcare, relationships, shelter, and support systems. They try to look for the best overall situation for the child.

When should I contact a lawyer?

As previously stated, terminating parental rights can be a quite complicated and emotionally draining process. It’s extremely recommended to hire a lawyer for this legal process. Attorneys are there to give you advice and present to you the most effective legal plan. Talk to one of our attorneys today here at Burton Law. We have over three decades of family law experience and we deal with these parental rights cases quite often. Call our offices to get a free consultation.

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