Under Arizona law, judicial guidance on the issue of termination of parental rights is based on the best interests of the child. Involuntary termination proceedings may be implemented in the following situations:
•A parent has abandoned, intentionally abused or neglected a child
•A parent has been convicted of a crime indicating that the parent is unfit
•The father fails to file a paternity claim
•A parent of the child cannot be identified after several attempts to find him or her
•A parent has had parental rights terminated in the last two years for another child
•A child has been placed in an out-of-home placement, reunited with the parent, and then removed from the home again within 18 months
An involuntary termination of parental rights requires that certain notifications be made to the parent whose rights are to be terminated. The court must order a motion to terminate the parent’s rights within 10 days following notice of a qualifying situation. An initial hearing is set within 90 days of the motion. If a parent contests the termination, a trial date is set. The parent has the right to be heard by the judge and respond to any evidence submitted.
The motion for termination must be served on all interested parties. Interested parties include the parent who is the subject of the action, any party who has an adoptive interest in the child, and any individual who has physical custody of the child.
The individual requesting termination of parental rights must petition the court. The petition must include the name and address of the individual or individuals who have legal custody of the child, the basis for the court’s jurisdiction in the matter and the grounds for which the petitioner is seeking to have the parent’s rights terminated. Each petition must also include a notarized statement that allows or disallows the child the ability to obtain information regarding the child’s biological parents following an adoption.
Upon order by the court terminating parental rights, the court will:
•Appoint a guardian for the child
•Appoint a guardian and give the guardian legal custody of the child, or
•Appoint a child care agency as the child’s guardian
Upon entry, the court’s order is binding on all parties.
A parent can voluntary relinquish parental rights, surrendering his or her child to a child care agency or agreeing to an adoption of the child. Termination of parental rights of one parent does not affect the parental rights of the other parent. If you have questions about termination of parental rights, please contact an experienced family law attorney to advise you.