Termination of Parental Rights
Every parent has a right to a relationship with their child. But in some circumstances, the court may decide to terminate a person’s parental rights. Termination must be in the child's best interests. Losing parental rights is a serious matter. Once parental rights have been terminated, a person no longer has a right to any relationship with their child. It is important to understand how the court makes a decision to terminate parental rights.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a parent. Anthem Divorce Lawyers have over 25 years of experience. Contact us today for a consultation.
What Happens When Parental Rights are Terminated?
Termination removes a parent’s right to the custody and control of their child. The person is no longer the child’s legal parent. The Family Law Self-Help Center provides the following summary of what occurs when a court takes away a parent’s rights:
- The parent-child relationship no longer exists.
- The parent no longer gets to raise the child.
- The parent usually has no right to visit or talk with the child.
- The parent no longer has to pay child support.
- The parent is removed from the child’s birth certificate.
- The child can be adopted without the parent’s permission.
Termination is a serious process with long term consequences. If you are facing a termination proceeding, contact a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer. Anthem Divorce Lawyers are an experienced legal team located in Henderson, Nevada. Contact us today for a consultation.
Who Can Terminate Parental Rights?
Under Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 128.005, severance of the parent and child relationship requires judicial determination. This means that Nevada requires a judge to decide to terminate parental rights. Both agencies and interested individuals may petition the court for a termination.
Child Protective Services focuses on protecting the child from harm or risk of harm. Child Protective Services involvement with a family can occur over time. If problems are serious or ongoing, their department may file a petition asking a judge to terminate a parent’s rights. If the district attorney is involved, the district attorney may file a petition asking a judge to take away a parent’s rights.
Not all terminations involve state agencies. It is possible for a parent, guardian, or other family member to petition the court for termination.
A Nevada court may not be the proper court for a proceeding if it involves an Indian child. The court will transfer the proceedings to the Indian child’s tribe in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
What are the Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights?
Pursuant to NRS 128.105, the primary consideration in any termination proceeding is the best interests of the child. In any termination proceeding, the court must base their decision on the child’s best interest and the conduct of the parents.
Protection of a Child from Abuse and Neglect
Relevant conduct of a parent includes conduct outlined in subsection 3 of NRS 432B.393. Subsection 3 includes a finding that a parent has:
- Participated in or attempted murder or voluntary manslaughter.
- Abused or neglected a child resulting in substantial bodily harm to the child.
- Engaged in the extreme or repetitious abuse or neglect of a child.
- Created an unacceptable risk to the health or welfare of the child.
- Abandoned the child for 60 or more days and their identity is unknown.
- For the previous 6 months, had the ability to contact the child and made no more than token efforts to do so.
- Had their parental rights of a child’s sibling terminated.
- Sexually abused the child or failed to protect the child from sexual abuse.
NRS 128.105(1)(b) lists other relevant parental conduct. The court considers whether the conduct of the parent demonstrated at least one of the following:
- Abandonment of the child
- Neglect of the child
- Unfitness of the parent
- Failure of parental adjustment
- Risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional injury to the child
- Sexual assault
- Token efforts to maintain their relationship with the child
Abandonment of the Child
Abandonment of the child means the parental conduct demonstrates the parent:
- Gives up all parental custody.
- Relinquishes all claims to the child.
The court presumes the parent intended to abandon the child if the parent leaves the child without support or communication for six months.
Neglect of the Child
Under NRS 128.014, a neglected child includes a child who:
- Lacks the proper parental care by reason of the fault or habits of his or her parent, guardian, or custodian.
- Is found in a disreputable place.
- Is permitted to associate with vagrants or vicious or immoral persons.
- Engages or is in a situation dangerous to life or limb, or injurious to health or morals of the child or others.
A neglected child includes a child whose parent, guardian, or custodian neglects or refuses to provide:
- Proper or necessary subsistence, education, medical or surgical care, or other care necessary for the child’s health, morals or well-being.
- The special care made necessary by the child’s physical or mental condition.
Unfitness of the Parent
An unfit parent is any parent who, by reason of the parent’s fault, habit, or conduct, fails to provide their child with:
- Proper care
Failure of Parental Adjustment
Failure of parental adjustment occurs when a parent is:
- Unable or unwilling to correct substantially the circumstances, conduct, or conditions which led to the placement of their child outside of their home.
The parent must make these corrections within a reasonable time.
Evidence of failure of parental adjustment includes:
- The parent’s failure to timely comply substantially with the terms and conditions of a plan to reunite the family.
Risk of Serious Physical, Mental, or Emotional Injury to the Child
Injury occurs when a parent
- Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury.
- Commits or allows to be committed against the child, sexual abuse.
- Neglects or refuses to provide for the child proper or necessary subsistence, education or medical or surgical care.
- Fails to provide the child with adequate care, supervision, or guardianship and the circumstances require the intervention of:
- A child welfare agency.
- The juvenile or family court.
Mental injury means an injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by:
- An observable and substantial impairment in the child’s ability to function within his or her normal range of performance and behavior.
The court can consider sexual assault if:
- The child was conceived as a result of a sexual assault for which the natural parent was convicted.
It is also relevant if the parent’s conduct only demonstrates token efforts to:
- Support or communicate with the child.
- Prevent neglect of the child.
- Avoid being an unfit parent.
- Eliminate the risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional injury to the child.
Losing parental rights is a serious process. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer can advise you of your rights and guide you through the process. Contact Anthem Divorce Lawyers today for a consultation.
Experienced Las Vegas Lawyers
The termination of parental rights is a complicated process with long term consequences. The team at Anthem Divorce Lawyers can help you navigate parental rights issues. Contact us today for a consultation.