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What are the Steps to Terminating Parental Rights?

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What are the Steps to Terminating Parental Rights?

Termination of parental rights refers to the legal severing of the parent-child relationship by the state. There are many reasons to pursue termination of parental rights. You may be a parent seeking to end parental rights for the other parent to protect your child. You may be a stepparent interested in adopting your stepchild. Whatever your reason, terminating parental rights is the first step towards adoption. The court will determine what is in the best interests of the child. California public policy assumes it is in the “best interests” of the child to be in contact with and receive support from both parents, until and unless the court determines that the parent(s) is unfit to care for the child. The process for filing for terminating parental rights includes understanding the reasons to petition for parental rights, knowing who can bring up a parental rights termination case, and when a termination of parental rights should be filed.


Reasons To Bring Up a Parental Rights Termination

In California, there are some legal reasons the court would consider terminating parental rights. Some issues that may lead to parental rights termination are:


  • child abandonment
  • child neglect
  • unfitness of parent
  • failure of parental adjustment
  • risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional injury to the child if he were returned to, or remains in, the home of his parent or parents.

One parent cannot voluntarily terminate their parental rights to avoid paying child support or to resolve custody disputes, even if the other parent agrees. A parent may give up their parental rights is if there is a stepparent willing to take over the legal responsibilities and obligations for the child through a formal adoption. A parent cannot petition for terminating parental rights simply because they are upset at the other parent or they are attempting to block the other parent from taking part in their minor child’s life. There must be a legal basis in order to petition for terminating parental rights.

Who Can Bring up a Termination of Parental Rights?

One may file for child abandonment and pursue a parental rights termination case to legally sever the parent-child legal relationship concerning custody and otherwise, if the child is under 18 and fits within the descriptions of California Family Code Section 7822. Examples of those who can file a proceeding for parental rights termination include:


  • a legal parent of the child
  • a grandparent of the child
  • a step-parent of the child
  • an adult sibling of the child

A Juvenile Dependency Court proceeding can terminate parental rights if one or both parents have been deemed unfit to care for the child. In this scenario, when parental rights are terminated, the government becomes the legal guardian for the child. The child may be legally adopted without prior parental consent.

When Can You Bring up a Termination Case?

California Family Code section 7822 provides that one may bring a child abandonment case under any of the following situations:


  • Child has been left without identification, such as birth certificate, by the legal parent, or parents.
  • Child has been left by the custodial parent, or both parents, in the care of another person for at least six months. During this time, there is no contact with the child or financial support from the responsible parties. The legal parent(s) must also have intent to abandon the child.
  • The other parent has left the child in your care and custody for at least one year; the other parent has not provided any financial support and has not communicated with the child during that year long period. The other parent must have intent to abandon the child.

Termination of parental rights can be a difficult situation to navigate, and not every petition for terminating parental rights is granted. If you are a parent who is either filing for termination of parental rights, or facing a case where your parental rights may be terminated, you need to hire experienced family law legal counsel to protect your rights.

Contact Experienced Kern County Family Law Attorneys

Every child deserves the support of a loving family. We at Azemika & Azemika Law understand that terminating parental rights takes a heavy emotional toll on families, but is also the first step in uniting families through adoption. Our experienced Kern County Family Law attorneys understand that you want to protect a child you love. We will bring you fast and effective solutions customized for your unique needs when it comes to pursuing termination of parental rights in Kern County. With the knowledgeable professionals at Azemika & Azemika Law, our premiere Bakersfield divorce lawyers focus on your family, so you can focus on the future.