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Termination of Parental Rights

Whether you are seeking to terminate a party’s parental rights or defending against a petition to remove your parental rights, termination of parental rights cases are complex legal proceedings and should not be pursued without assistance of counsel.  BPS has experienced, learned counsel who have represented parties in a vast array of termination of parental rights cases.    

What is Termination of Parental Rights?

Termination of Parental Rights means the severing of the legal relationship between a child and a parent by court order.  If granted, the parent no longer has any custodial rights or obligation of support for the minor child.  Once Termination of Parental Rights has been ordered it, parental rights cannot be restored.

Who can petition for Termination of Parental Rights?

Only certain people may petition to terminate parental rights.  Those that may petition include 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. In addition, the child must also consent to the petition for termination if the child is age twelve or over.

Do I have a right to an attorney?

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 not a criminal proceeding.

Where do I file a petition to Terminate Parental Rights?

Petitions are filed in Probate Courts or Juvenile Courts.

What needs to be proven to Terminate Parental Rights?

To terminate parental rights the petitioner must prove by clear and convincing evidence (1) that termination is in the child’s best interests and (2) that one of the eight statutory grounds for termination exists. These grounds include, but are not limited to, evidence that the child has been denied the care necessary for the minor’s wellbeing, evidence of child abuse or evidence of a parent’s abandonment of the child.

What evidence does the Court consider?

The court typically orders DCF to conduct an investigation into the facts of the case. The purpose of the investigation, and the resulting written report, is to aid the court in determining the best interests of the minor.  A written report is submitted to the court.  The court may also order an examination of the minor and/or the parents by a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist as an additional aid in assisting the court to determine what course of action is in the minor’s best interests.  Finally, all parties may testify, call witnesses and offer exhibits in support of their case.