Only two methods are available to terminate a person's parental rights in Arkansas: through the Arkansas Department of Human Services and through the process of adoption.
The court is hesitant to take permanent action against a parent exercising his parental rights, and DHS will terminate parental rights only by determining that the parent has been abusive or neglectful. Having your child adopted by another person, such as a stepparent, is the only remedy available to a personal litigant.
Contact a lawyer. Child custody and adoption proceedings are extremely important and generally cannot be completed by a layperson without legal knowledge.
Get the consent of the parent if possible. If the parent has no interest in the child or believes that the child will be in a better position by being adopted, then ask him to consent to the adoption. Have him sign a consent form to relinquish parental rights and a consent form for the adoption. Signing the documents will not complete the process, but it will demonstrate to the court that the adoption is uncontested.
Provide your lawyer with evidence that the parent is not actively involved in the life of his child, especially if he is not consenting to the adoption. In Arkansas, you must prove that he has given implied consent by not visiting or supporting the child within the last six months, or that he left the child with another guardian without maintaining any type of communication regarding his care or support. Give your lawyer evidence that child support is in arrears, if applicable, to help provide evidence for your position.
Gather evidence regarding the parent's lack of fitness as a parent. When you go to court the judge will look to see if the parent is unfit and whether it is in the child's best interest to sever contact with this parent. Bring your attorney any evidence regarding drug or alcohol abuse, criminal problems, financial instability or other factors regarding his unfitness.
File your paperwork. File the adoption documents at the circuit court in the county where you reside. Pay the filing fee. After processing your documents, you will receive notification of the termination of parental rights hearing date. Attend the hearing.
Terminating parental rights is a permanent outcome. It may also keep the parent from being required to pay child support. Ensure that you are prepared for all of the consequences before proceeding.
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