For various reasons, there may come a time when a parent’s rights are terminated under California law. What this means is that the parent is no longer considered the minor child’s legal parent, and all rights and obligations of being a parent end.
The issue of terminating parental rights most frequently comes up as part of the adoption process. For example, in a stepparent adoption where the stepfather is adopting the child, the biological father can either consent to the adoption and voluntarily waive his parental rights, or the Court can determine that the biological father is unfit and terminate the biological parent’s rights without consent. Failure to provide child support can be a basis for terminating parental rights in a stepparent adoption.
Another scenario where parental rights are terminated is during a juvenile dependency court proceeding. If one or both parents are found to be abusive, have substance abuse problems, or certain criminal problems, the Juvenile Court can terminate one or both parents’ rights, and the government becomes the legal custodian of the minor child. This allows the minor child to be placed for adoption without the biological parent’s consent.
One way you are not likely to have parental rights terminated is when a parent is trying to avoid paying child support or to resolve custody disputes. You cannot “give up” your rights as a parent to avoid paying support unless there is a stepparent willing to take over the responsibility and obligations through adoption.
Termination of parental rights should not be taken lightly, and if you are facing having your parental rights terminated without your consent, you need to make sure you have legal counsel to protect your rights. Likewise, a parent will not be successful in having parental rights terminated just because they are upset with the other parent or don’t want them to be a part of the minor child’s life.
If you need assistance with the issue of termination of parental rights or stepparent adoption, please contact our office.