How Does a Court Terminate Someone’s Parental Rights?

A parent, a guardian, or another family member may ask a Nevada court to terminate a parent’s rights. If you’re trying to have someone’s parental rights terminated, or if you’re the parent whose rights are at stake, you’ll need to be represented by a Las Vegas parental rights lawyer.

In other cases, if Child Protective Services has investigated and worked with a parent, and if the parent’s problems are serious, the Nevada Division of Family Services may file a petition that asks the court to terminate a parent’s rights.

A Nevada judge will terminate a parent’s rights for only the most serious reasons, but if your parental rights are challenged, you’re going to need legal help. The termination of parental rights by a Nevada court means that someone is no longer a child’s legal parent, and it also means:

  1.  The child may be adopted without that parent’s permission.
  2.  The legal child-parent relationship no longer exists.
  3.  The parent may no longer raise the child or pay or receive child support.
  4.  The parent, in most cases, may not contact or visit the child.
  5.  The parent’s name is erased from the child’s birth certificate.

For What Reasons May a Parent’s Rights be Terminated?

In most families, a parent has both legal responsibilities and legal rights. A parent is responsible for feeding, housing, and caring for a child, and a parent has the right to make choices for a child regarding the child’s education, medical care, religious training, and other important matters.

However, after considering the evidence for terminating someone’s parental rights, a court in Nevada may terminate the rights of a parent for any of these reasons:

  1.  Abandonment of a child: In most cases, failing to contact a child or to provide financial support for a child for six months or more without a legitimate reason constitutes abandonment.
  2.  Child neglect: The failure of a parent to provide food, housing, education, health care, or other special care that a child may need constitutes neglect.
  3.  Parental unfitness: The inability or unwillingness of a parent to provide a child with appropriate guidance, care, and support constitutes parental unfitness.
  4.  Risk: Allowing the child to remain with the parent would be dangerous for the child and would place the child at risk for mental, emotional, or physical injury or harm.
  5.  Failure to correct known problems: If Child Protective Services has removed a child from a parent or parents, the reasons why the child was removed must be corrected within a “reasonable” period of time, or the state may seek to terminate parental rights.
  6.  Sexual Assault: If a child was conceived as the result of a sexual assault, and if a biological parent subsequently received a criminal sexual assault conviction, that parent’s rights may be terminated by the court.

What is the Highest Priority in Cases That Involve Children?

In the State of Nevada, the highest priority in any judicial proceeding that involves a child is that child’s best interests. When a family member or the state seeks to terminate a parent’s rights, that party must prove both of these claims to the court with evidence that is clear and convincing:

  1.  One or more of the grounds for terminating parental rights (listed above) exist.
  2.  Terminating parental rights will be in the child’s best interests.

What if Your Child’s Other Parent Cannot Be Located?

If you are filing a petition with the court to terminate someone’s parental rights, you and your Las Vegas family law attorney must ensure that the parent is served with a copy of your petition so that the parent may appear in court and offer a defense.

If your child’s other parent cannot be located, you and your Nevada family law attorney must do everything reasonably possible to find that parent. Only if that parent genuinely cannot be found despite your best efforts, the court may allow you to publish a notice in a newspaper.

If the court lets you post a notice through a newspaper, the notice must be published for four consecutive weeks, and the parent’s closest known relative in Nevada must be served with a copy of your petition to terminate the parent’s rights.

Can Someone Voluntarily Surrender His or Her Parental Rights?

In most cases, a Nevada court will not allow you to give up your own parental rights. For example, you cannot surrender those rights to escape having to deal with your child’s behavioral problems, and you cannot give up your rights in order to avoid making child support payments.

You may, however, voluntarily surrender your parental rights if another party seeks to adopt the child or if a family member or the state files a petition requesting the termination of your parental rights. You may have to appear in court to inform the judge personally of your decision.

When Should You Contact an Attorney?

Terminating the rights of a parent in this state is a quite serious legal matter. The first step you take should be scheduling a consultation with a Las Vegas family law attorney who can discuss the details of your case and explain what the legal process will entail.

If another family member or the State of Nevada is seeking to terminate your parental rights, now or in the future, you must be represented and advised by a Las Vegas parental rights lawyer, and you must contact that lawyer immediately to begin preparing your defense.

Attorney Rebecca A. Fuller Fights for Children and Families

With more than seventeen years of family law experience, Rebecca A. Fuller is an award-winning Nevada attorney who fights aggressively for children and families in and near the Las Vegas area and across the state.

Attorney Rebecca A. Fuller handles divorces, alimony and custody cases, child support disputes, and adoptions as well as parental rights cases. She puts her considerable legal knowledge and years of experience to work for every client in every case.

If you are seeking to terminate a family member’s parental rights, or if your own rights as a parent are challenged, now or in the future, promptly contact the offices of Fuller Law Practice in Las Vegas by calling 702-935-4144, and get the legal help you need.