Table of Contents:
- How to Relinquish Parental Rights in Illinois
- How to Relinquish Parental Rights in North Carolina
- How to Relinquish Parental Rights in the State of Montana
- How to Voluntarily Relinquish Parental Rights in the State of North Dakota
- How to Relinquish Parental Rights in New Jersey
Petition the court for termination of parental rights. If you voluntarily terminate your parental rights, you must draft and file a petition to the local courthouse. Your petition must set forth the reasons you feel that it is in the child's best interest for you to relinquish your parental rights. You must attend a hearing on the merits of the case. The judge will review the facts in your petition and will hear testimony from all interested parties. If you provide clear and convincing evidence that it is in your child's best interest for you to relinquish parental rights, it will issue an order stating so.
Commit one of Illinois' grounds for involuntary termination. Even if you have not petitioned the court for termination of parental rights, a judge could terminate your rights in your absence. Abandonment of your child is one of the leading reasons for the court to terminate your rights even if you haven't petitioned for termination. Abandonment means either leaving the child in the hospital after birth or deserting the child for more than three months. These behaviors indicate an intent to relinquish parental rights and the court will terminate your rights if it finds abandonment.
Meet the court's requirements proving abuse or neglect. This will also result in an involuntary relinquishment of parental rights. Illinois disallows continuous and repeated abuse and neglect of a child. This includes a failure to protect the child from conditions that could injure the child's welfare. Oftentimes, injurious conditions include exposure to drunkenness or drug use. Exposure to unsavory individuals or anyone abusive to the child could be considered grounds for involuntary relinquishment as well.
Commit a felony involving moral depravity. A severe criminal background also is grounds for involuntary relinquishment. This includes conviction of first- or second-degree murder, attempt or conspiracy to commit first- or second-degree murder of a parent of the child or the child himself, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated battery, heinous battery or attempted murder of any child.
Commit one of several other acts that could result in involuntary relinquishment of parental rights. These could include open and notorious adultery and fornication, presence in foster care for more than 15 months or 12 simultaneous months of complete disinterest in the child and his life. The court also will look for evidence of mental incapacity or an otherwise inability to properly care for the child. The greatest consideration is the child's best interest and the court will make a decision under the guise that the child's best interest is tantamount to any other party's interests.
File a petition or motion in support of termination of parental rights. Section 7B-1103 sets forth who may properly file a petition for termination parental rights. It includes either parent seeking self-termination, either parent seeking termination of the other parent, any person judicially appointed as guardian of the minor child, the department of social services, any person with whom the juvenile has resided with for a period of two years or any person who has filed for adoption of the child.
Draft a petition in accordance with § 7B-1104. This code section sets forth very specific guidelines on the formatting of a petition to terminate parental rights. For instance, the petition must be labeled "In re [last name of child], a minor juvenile." All identification information must be provided for the child, including given name, place and date of birth, full name and contact information for both parents, any information as to current guardians, the grounds for termination (explained below) and that the petition has been filed in good faith. The petition should be filed by taking the document to the local trial courthouse in the jurisdiction within which the child resides.
Attend the pre-trial hearing. North Carolina law requires a pre-trial hearing to be held to review certain fundamental principles before the actual termination hearing. This includes whether a guardian ad litem should be appointed on behalf of the child. A guardian ad litem is an attorney, usually serving for free, who would represent the child's best interests. Also, the court will ensure that all parties have been properly served with all necessary documents. If any party has a pre-trial motion to resolve before the hearing, the pre-trial hearing would be when the court resolves those issues. The judge is free to consolidate the pre-trial hearing with the main hearing if he chooses.
Attend adjudicatory hearing to determine termination of parental rights. The code requires the adjudicatory hearing to take place within 90 days of the filing of the petition. The hearing will take place without a jury. The judge will ask the parents, if unrepresented, whether they are indigent and would like representation. The judge can also order psychiatric evaluations of the child if necessary. If the court finds that no extraneous evidence is necessary it will hear evidence on whether the child's best interests would be best served by terminating the rights of the natural parents. Section 7B-1111 lists the grounds for termination, including: neglect, abandonment in foster care, placement in state facility longer than six months, non-custodial parent has failed to provide child support in excess of one calendar year, substance abuse, mental illness, incarceration or the parent has committed murder.
Understand the effects of a termination order. If the judge, at the conclusion of the hearing, declares that it is in the child's best interests to terminate rights, he will then order a final decree officially ending the parent-child relationship. The natural parent is not entitled to notification of adoption. If the child becomes a ward of the state, the natural parent has no rights to the child for visitation whatsoever. Also, any subsequent hearings involving the child do not affect the parent in any way and he or she is no longer entitled to participate.
Voluntarily Relinquishing Parental Rights
Make a knowing and voluntary decision to relinquish parental rights. A biological parent has a Constitutional right to control the upbringing of his children. The court cannot strip an individual of these rights without due process of law. You must make the decision to relinquish your rights knowing all the consequences and ramifications of the decision. Once you give up your parental rights, you have no further legal ties to the child for the rest of its life. The decision must be voluntary.
Draft a petition to the court detailing your desire to relinquish your parental rights. You must craft a petition detailing all the reasons why it is in the best interests of the child to terminate your rights. This could include your inability to provide for the child, your lack of interest in the child's life, your incarceration, addiction problems or any other reason you feel the child would be better off with a different parent.
File your petition within the local courthouse in the Montana county where either you or the child resides. There will be a nominal filing fee and the clerk will place you case on the docket for a hearing on the matter. You will be responsible for ensuring all parties to the action receive a copy of the petition and are aware of the date of the hearing. This includes the child's other parent, the child, his guardian or foster parent and any other family members with interest in the outcome.
Attend the parentage hearing. You will be required to attend a hearing to relinquish your parental rights. The judge will consider the evidence set forth in your petition as well as any other evidence or objections by any other parties. He may require social workers, foster parents or family members to testify as to whether your relinquishment will be in the best interests of the child. The judge will make a decision and an order will be executed at the end of the hearing. Once the order is filed, your parental rights will cease.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
Leave the child in a foster care facility for 15 months of the most recent 22 months. The courts will presume it is in the best interests of the child to terminate parental rights if the child has been under the care of the state for the last 15 months and nobody has stepped forth to accept responsibility of the child.
Abandon or neglect the child. The court will presume termination of parental is in the child's best interest in any situation where the parent has abandoned the child or the child's basic human needs are not being met. The court might implement a treatment plan by which the parents can work toward the goal of reunification with the child. If the court finds the parents are not in compliance with the treatment plan, it will be abandoned and rights will be terminated.
Commit a sex crime resulting in the child. The court will presume the best interests of the child are not met in any situation where a parent has been convicted of a felony involving sexual intercourse upon the mother of the child, resulting in the birth of the child.
Possess a history of mental illness or violent behavior. The court will likely terminate a parent's rights who has been constantly found mentally ill or incompetent, as it is not in the child's best interest to remain in the care of that parent. In addition, excessive history of violent behavior, substance abuse including liquors and narcotics could also result in the termination of parental rights. Long-term incarceration, regardless of the offense, is also considered a criteria to terminate rights.
Abuse the child such that it sustains serious bodily injury or death. A parent who injures a child such that it experiences significant and grievous bodily injury will have his parental rights terminated, as will any parent causing the death of a child through willful, malicious conduct.
Look up the North Dakota statutes on parental rights. You will need what is called just cause to voluntarily relinquish your rights. If you are putting the child up for adoption, that is considered just cause. Otherwise, you will need to discuss your specific situation with a family law lawyer in your area to determine if your request is even possible.
Contact your child's other parent. If you are asking a judge to relinquish your parental rights, you will need your co-parent to sign off on the request as well. Find out if she is willing to agree to the request.
Draw up a written petition, asking a judge to relinquish your parental rights. Your lawyer can do this for you or you can ask the court clerk at your local family court for pre-printed documents and guidelines. If your co-parent agrees to your request, include a signed, notarized document from her with your forms.
File your petition with the court clerk in the family law court in your area. The clerk will give your petition to a family court judge for further processing. You will need to pay a fee, which will vary based on your area, to file the motion.
Attend any hearing that is scheduled on your parental rights petition. The court will notify you in advance of any court appearances you need to make. Be prepared to answer the judge's questions and offer evidence, if there is any, as to why the court should grant your request.
Make an appointment with a reputable attorney to discuss relinquishing your parental rights. Once you do so in New Jersey, the process is usually irrevocable. You can't change your mind. Make sure you have a full understanding of what you are doing and what it implies.
Consult with a counselor or therapist to discuss your decision. Be sure that this is really what you want to do. Try to separate yourself from whatever immediate situation is prompting you to give up your child. Circumstances change, and you may not feel this way five years from now.
Go online to the website for your county. Many New Jersey counties, such as Cumberland, provide legal forms free to the public. Download a "consent of natural parent" form. If your particular county does not offer forms on its website, visit the family court clerk in your county and ask for one. If you are relinquishing your child to his other parent, she may have an attorney who can draw up this form for your signature. If you are giving up your child for adoption, the adoption agency can also supply you with one.
Complete the form, giving your name and place of birth, whether you are your child's mother or father, and your child's name and where she was born. Explain the reason you are voluntarily surrendering your child. Give the names of the person or persons who will be adopting your child and explain why you have made this decision. Sign it in front of a notary. The form will include some language indicating that you "unreservedly and unconditionally" release your child to her adoptive parent or parents and that you are doing this of your own free will.
Give the completed, notarized form to the adoption agency, or to your child's other parent, if this is a stepparent adoption. Either one will file it with the court along with other documents finalizing the adoption process. Once this occurs, your parental rights are terminated and you do not have to take any other action.