There are a variety of circumstances under which a parent or other interested party may need to seek the termination of parental rights. For obvious reasons, this is a matter that is taken very seriously in California, and there are strict substantive and procedural requirements for pursuing the termination of parental rights in the California courts. Whether you are seeking to protect your (or someone else’s) child from cruelty or neglect, you are seeking to adopt, or you have any other reason for seeking termination, there are several legal and practical issues to consider, and we strongly recommend that you discuss your options with a family law attorney. Just click terminating parental rights in California blog.
Grounds for Seeking Terminating Parental Rights in California
As explained by the Superior Court of California, “terminating parental rights is a court order that permanently ends the legal parent-child relationship. This type of order terminates rights such as inheritance, custody, and visitation, as well as responsibilities regarding child support and liability for the child’s misconduct. . . . Parental rights can be terminated voluntarily by the parent(s) or involuntarily by the court. . . .”
While the court’s order terminates the parent’s rights, it terminates certain rights of the child as well (such as the right to inherit and the right to certain government benefits). This is an important factor to consider, and in certain cases, it may warrant pursuing guardianship or another alternative to the terminating parental rights in California.
When seeking to terminate parental rights, it is also necessary to determine whether you have sufficient grounds available. In California, the grounds for termination of parental rights include:
- Abandonment of the child (California Family Code Section 7822)
- Neglect or cruelty toward the child (California Family Code Section 7823)
- The parent’s disability due to alcohol or drug use or moral depravity (California Family Code Section 7824)
- The parent’s conviction of a felony offense (California Family Code Section 7825)
- The parent’s mental illness or disability (California Family Code Sections 7826 and Section 7827)
Process for Seeking Terminating Parental Rights in California
In order to request terminating parental rights, an eligible individual (including a parent, grandparent, step-parent, or adult sibling) must submit a pleading to the appropriate court along with an Investigation Questionnaire Form and other supporting documentation. In most cases, it is also necessary to request a hearing, although it is possible to terminate parental rights without a hearing in some cases.
The parent whose rights are at risk generally has the right to participate in the court proceedings as well. If the court determines that termination is appropriate, it will issue a binding order at the conclusion of the proceedings.
Terminating Child Custody or Visitation Rights in California
In some cases, a parent may not need (or want) to terminate another parent’s rights entirely, but they may need to take legal action in order to protect their child’s best interests following a separation or divorce. There are various grounds for seeking termination of child custody or visitation rights in California, ranging from abduction or abuse to refusal to co-parent.
In these types of cases, it is imperative that you seek a termination of rights before you do anything that would put you in violation of your existing custody order. For more information, you can read: Common Reasons to Lose Custody in a California Child Custody Dispute.
Discuss Your Situation with San Diego Family Law Attorney Richard M. Renkin
If you live in the San Diego area and have questions about terminating parental rights, modifying or terminating custody, or any other family-related legal matter, we invite you to get in touch. To request a confidential appointment with our founding attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist Richard M. Renkin, please call 888-837-3564 or contact us online today.