Termination of Parental Rights and the Probate Court
Sean Michael Peoples, partner at Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP
Connecticut Probate Courts have jurisdiction to terminate a parent’s parental rights. Termination of parental rights effectively means that the legal relationship between parent and child will no longer exists. The parent will no longer have the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent. The termination of parental rights is a serious procedure: a parent who has had his or her rights terminated cannot regain parental rights once these rights are terminated.
Different people may petition the Probate Court to have a parent’s rights terminated. Those that may petition the Probate Court are the child’s guardian, a child’s relative, but only if the parent has abandoned the child, the Commissioner of DCF, an approved child-placing agency or the child’s parents themselves. If the child is age twelve or older, the child must also consent to the petition for termination.
Only in criminal proceedings does one typically have the right to an attorney if he or she cannot afford one. A termination of parental rights is unique because an attorney may be appointed to represent the parent who cannot afford an attorney even though it is a non-criminal proceeding.
The decision to terminate a parent’s rights rests on the presence of two factors. The first factor is that the termination is proven by clear and convincing evidence to be in the child’s best interests. The second factor is that one of the eight statutory grounds for termination exists. These grounds include, but are not limited to, evidence of child abuse or a parent’s abandonment of the child.
The termination of parental rights may be a difficult and emotional procedure for all involved. Nevertheless, it is a necessary step to make a child eligible for adoption. In the year 2016, the Glastonbury-Hebron Probate Court ordered nine (9) terminations of parental rights.
If you have any questions, please contact the Glastonbury-Hebron Probate Court, located at 2143 Main Street in Glastonbury. The Court’s hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Telephone: (860) 652-7629.