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What Are the Steps to Terminating Parental Rights?
In California, parental rights are not perfect. This is evident enough when a couple goes through a divorce and the court needs to assign child custody to each of them. Custody can be split between parents in many ways or fully assigned to one parent with visitation rights for the other – either way though, it can feel like parenting is more of a privilege than anything.
The “right” to be a child’s legal parent, like other privileges, can be removed willingly or involuntarily in exceptional situations. If a parent has a history of mental illness or substance addiction, or if their kid is being adopted by someone else and their parental rights must be terminated to facilitate the adoption, they may willingly give up their parental rights.
A situation in which a lawful parent’s rights are withdrawn without the parent’s consent is described as involuntary termination of parental rights. Parental rights can only be revoked by a court order if the family court decides that the child’s relationship with his or her parent is not in the best interests of the child.
The following are some of the reasons for involuntary termination of parental rights:
Who Can Pursue Involuntary Parental Rights Termination?
If a biological mother, father, grandparent, stepparent, or adult who has assumed custody and care of a child owing to the legal parents’ absence believes that another person’s parental rights should be terminated, they can take action. When one or more of the earlier mentioned reasons apply, only these people can file for the termination of someone else’s parental rights.
Is it possible to have parental rights revoked if child support isn’t paid?
Failure to meet a child support demand could be seen as a failure to support a child, which can lead to the termination of parental rights. This is especially true if a noncustodial parent does not pay child support at all or just pays a modest amount in comparison to the amount ordered.
However, keep in mind that the court will look into the reasons why a noncustodial parent isn’t paying support or is just paying part of it. The financial status of the noncustodial parent may have shifted in this case, prompting a child support modification. However, if a parent is providing “token” support in respect to what they could be paying, the court may interpret this as a failure to support a child and terminate parental rights.
When parental rights are terminated, do child support obligations end?
Not all of the time. Generally, your duty to pay child support stops when your parental rights are revoked, but this is often only viable if someone is ready to take over your parental responsibilities. In the absence of such a person, the court is hesitant to terminate a parent’s legal contact with his or her children, and hence their responsibility to pay child support.
Even if a parent’s parental rights and obligation to pay child support are terminated, they are still liable for any outstanding child support, which cannot be excused or canceled.
Is it possible to reclaim parental rights after cancellation?
If a child has not been adopted (by a stepparent or another party) after a legal parent’s rights have been revoked, the court can reinstate parental rights if the court considers it is in the child’s best interests. After termination, a minimum of three years must pass before reinstatement is permitted.
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