A parent generally has the right to make all decisions for their child, but in some serious situations their parental rights may be terminated. This occurs in situations where the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest.
Reasons for termination
It may be necessary to terminate a parent’s rights where the child has been abandoned or the parent has intentionally failed to maintain contact or provide support for the child, where the child has been neglected or abused, or where the parent is struggling with substance abuse issues that affect their ability to care for the child.
In other situations, the court may involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights when they have continuously failed to comply with a court order issued to address parenting concerns or where the court determines that the parent is unfit to provide the child with a safe and stable environment.
The termination process starts when a petition is filed with the court in the county where the child lives. The person who is requesting the termination must notify the parents, so they have an opportunity to respond and contest the termination, if they choose to.
The court will appoint a guardian ad litem, who will make recommendations to the court about what is in the child’s best interest. The court will hold a hearing to hear evidence from the parents.
If the court decides to terminate the parents’ rights, it will issue an order of termination and will make a permanency plan, which could include adoption or guardianship for the child.