Termination of Parental Rights in California

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 a Los Angeles family law lawyer to discuss your case.


About thomasmaclean

Attorney based in Burbank, CA.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Child Custody, Child Support, Father's Rights, Parentage, Parental Rights, Stepparent Adoption and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Termination of Parental Rights in California

  1. sharon says:

    i am interested in enlisting in the army in california and before being emitted i must give up my parental rights i need help i have a few questions …

  2. mario says:

    My rights have been taken with a child I just found out @about and grandparents are going to get custody how do I reestablish my rights or get custody

    • You need to petition whichever Court has jurisdiction over the child. It sounds like there already is an open case with the grandparents, so you need to make your request in that case to what rights or custody you would like established.

  3. SP says:

    I was wondering if parental rights are sevred and the parent has not had contact with the child in over 6 years, can the other parent that has total legal custody obtain a court order for the other one to pay for that child?

    • If your parental rights were terminated, then you would not have future obligation for support. However, if your visitation or custody was denied, but your parental rights have not been terminated, you may still owe support.

  4. I want to adopt my step daughter she has been with me since she was one and a half she is now five years old the real father has not been around since she got home from the hospital he did sign the birth certificate but put the wrong info because we tried to look for him by looking him up with his social and birth day that he put on the hospital papers but nothing comes up we dont know were he is so we want to try to terminate his prenatal rights and i need a starting point so could you tell me what paper work i need to file to start this process

  5. Robert Crane says:

    Great article. Really informative.

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