Termination of Parental Rights

Collaborative Law Divorce Model in Phoenix, Arizona

In Arizona, termination of parental rights may be pursued by any person having a legitimate concern over the best interest of the child.

 

To commence a termination of parental rights case, an individual must file a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights within the juvenile division of Maricopa County Superior Court.  In the Petition, the Petitioner must allege no less than one legal ground for the termination of parental rights.  Those grounds could include abandonment, neglect, abuse, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, felony conviction(s), imprisonment, consent of the other parent, and more. 

 

As in every case involving a child, a court is going to look to what would serve the best interests of the child.  In contested cases (cases where the parents are opposing the termination of parental rights), especially those involving abuse or neglect, prior to the termination of parental rights, a court could order the parent(s) to receive the assistance of the State in an effort to preserve the parent-child bonds. 

 

Even in uncontested cases, a court will not blindly grant the termination of parental rights; the judge will want to confirm the termination of parental rights serves the best interest of the child(ren).

Oftentimes, individuals are under the mistaken impression that termination of parental rights means that the parents will no longer have to pay child support.  This is not the case.  Even when a parent’s rights have been terminated, he or she still has the obligation to provide for the support of the child.  Failure to provide this support could result in many negative consequences, including incarceration.  If a termination of parental rights is done for the purposes of adoption, once the adoption is final, the obligation to provide support will end for the parent whose rights have been terminated.

 

Because termination of parental rights is such a serious matter, the court will hold a hearing.  The depth of the hearing will be dictated by whether the parent or parents oppose the petition for termination of parental rights.  In contested cases, the hearing could be lengthy and complicated, involving many players besides the parents and their attorneys.  In uncontested cases, the hearing could be short and simple, only involving the party asking for the termination of parental rights.

 

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