You may never have heard of the phrase “parental rights” and simply assumed that you naturally have rights as the biological parent of a child to have a relationship with that child and impact their life. And while it is the case that no court needs to grant you parental rights for a child, a California court can in fact terminate those rights. A common scenario in which another party might seek to terminate your parental rights is when a stepparent (a person who married the other parent) wants to adopt the child. By having your parental rights terminated, you will no longer have rights to visitation and other rights associated with parentage. Below we provide a brief overview of the process of stopping your parental rights from being terminated.
Preparing Your Submission to the Court
In order to terminate your parental rights, the stepparent seeking to terminate your parental rights must serve you with court papers which give you notice of the pending action. Once you receive these papers, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney who can read the documents and respond appropriately. The last thing you want to do is to contact the would-be stepparent and give him or her a piece of your mind, as anything you say can be used against you in court to show that it is in the best interest of the child to terminate your rights.
The stepparent may ask you to consent to the termination of your rights, which you are free to do, but assuming you do not want those rights terminated, the next step will be to prepare a submission to the court for why your rights should not be terminated. Along with your attorney, you will make this submission, but it is critical to understand that the court will be making its decision based on the best interests of the child, and not on your needs or desires to maintain ties with the child. Factors that the court will consider in this analysis include:
- Whether the stepparent can care for the child and treat the child as his or her own
- The ability of the stepparent to financially support the child
- The ability of the stepparent to provide a suitable home for the child
Arguing Before the Court
After the court receives the submissions from you and the would-be stepparent, the court will hold a hearing in which both you and the stepparent (represented by your attorneys) will present evidence and arguments to the court in favor of your respective positions. The court may then refer the matter to a Family Court Services Investigator who will look into the proposed living situation and issue a recommendation to the court. The court will then issue an order either terminating your parental rights or denying the other party’s request.
Get Help in Your Termination of Parental Rights Matter
If another party is seeking to terminate your parental rights, having an experienced family law attorney on your side to present your best arguments can be critical to your success. The Pasadena family law attorneys at Kearney Baker work with clients across Southern California in helping them reach the best possible results for parents and children alike. For help with any family law matter you are facing, please contact the experienced, compassionate family law attorneys at Kearney Baker today at 626-768-2945.