Termination of parental rights is a two part case:
Are there grounds i.e. a basis for termination of parental rights?
Is termination of parental rights in the child’s best interests?
Typical Grounds for Termination:
2. Neglect or willful abuse
3. Parent’s mental illness/deficiency
4. History of chronic abuse of controlled substances or alcohol
5. Parent is in prison or has been convicted of a felony of a nature that supports the likelihood that the child is in danger while in the parent’s custody.
6. The child has been a dependent for the statutory amount of time.
Step 1 Petition for Termination of Parental Rights
Once a petition to terminate parental rights has been filed, the court will notify the parents or legal guardians of the time and place for the initial hearing. The notice will include the following language:
“You have a right to appear as a party in this proceeding. The failure of a parent to appear at the initial hearing, the pretrial conference, the status conference or the termination adjudication hearing may result in an adjudication terminating the parent-child relationship of that parent.”
Put simply, if you don’t show up for a hearing, the court can terminate your rights.
Step 2 Initial Hearing
At the initial hearing, the court will:
1. Schedule a pretrial conference or status conference
2. Schedule the termination adjudication hearing
Timing: The initial hearing can occur 10 days after notice has been given to the parents or guardians.
Step 3 Termination Adjudication Hearing
This is the trial. The general public will be excluded and only those with a direct interest in the case or the work of the court may attend the hearing. The court's findings with respect to grounds for termination are based upon clear and convincing evidence.
Clear and convincing: high probability or reasonable certainty
TIP: Termination of Parental Rights is sometimes called a severance of the parent’s rights.
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