To terminate someone’s parental rights in Arizona, the person must either voluntarily give up those rights, or a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights is filed in juvenile court. The Petition must allege why parental rights should be terminated and that it is in the child’s best interest. The reasons can include abandonment, child abuse or neglect, mental illness, incarcerated for felonies tending to prove unfitness or for a lengthy sentence, or if the child has been found dependent for a certain period of time. A contested process of terminating a parent’s rights can be a lengthy process. As part of the termination of parental rights, a social study must be completed by a social service agency. This is a comprehensive evaluation which examines all aspects of the case and why it is in the child’s best interest to terminate his parent’s rights. If people (other than a parent) are trying to sever parental rights, the social study will include an in-depth questionnaire and interviews by the social service agency to investigate whether the home is an appropriate placement, and all aspects of the prospective guardians of the child will be investigated. Once the parental rights have been terminated, the child is free for adoption.
The court is generally not inclined to terminate a parents’ rights in a contested matter unless there is an adoptive home or person wanting to adopt the child. It should be noted that even if a parent voluntarily gives up his/her rights, this does not stop the obligation to pay child support. In other words, a child support obligation continues until the adoption is final.
There is a case that permits the parents to make an agreement such that the parent will not have to pay support in exchange for not seeing the child. (Albins v. Elovitz). You should seek the advice of an attorney regarding this case and how it applies to your set of circumstances.
Do find out further information regarding the termination of parental rights in Arizona, contact Deborah Varney at (480) 838-2400.