An action for termination of parental rights is a very serious legal matter in Nevada, as it is in every state. The Nevada Supreme Court describes an order terminating a parent’s rights as “tantamount to imposition of a civil death penalty.”
If you are considering filing a termination action against your child’s other parent, or if a termination action has been filed involving your parental rights, experienced Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten can help. Attorney Gersten understands the complex Nevada laws about termination of parental rights. Just as importantly, he understands the significance of a termination action to everyone involved, particularly the child. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.
A Nevada court can terminate a parent’s rights, declaring the child free of the custody and control of that parent, only under specific circumstances. In a termination action, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration for the court. Parental fault will also be examined. If parental rights are terminated, the parent-child relationship no longer exists in the eyes of the law. There are a number of ramifications:
Nevada statutes specifically address the circumstances that will justify termination of a parent’s rights. The laws are extremely complex. In addition, termination actions involving an Indian child are governed by special provisions and by the Indian Child Welfare Act. In any situation where a termination action is being considered, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is essential. Generally, the statutory grounds for seeking a court order terminating a parent's rights include:
Conduct indicating a parent’s intent to give up custody and parental rights can be construed by the court as abandonment, including a parent leaving the child in the care of another person without contacting the child or providing financial support for at least six (6) months without good reason.
A number of different situations can constitute neglect, including failing to provide food, shelter, education, medical care, and other special needs of the child.
If through the parent’s conduct toward the child or another person, the parent fails to provide proper care, guidance, and support for the child, the court can find the parent unfit.
A finding by the court that returning the child to the parent would put the child at risk of physical, emotional, or mental injury can provide the basis for terminating the parent's rights.
If Child Protective Services removed the child from the care of the parent, and the parent does not correct the problems that led to removal within a reasonable time, the state can petition to terminate the parent’s rights.
If a parent has made only token efforts to support, communicate with, prevent neglect, eliminate risk of injury to the child, or avoid being an unfit parent, the court can order the parent's rights terminated.
A termination action is normally filed in the district court where the child is located or resides, unless the child is subject to the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe. The action can be filed by a child welfare agency or probation officer, or by any other person. Often the action is filed by a parent, guardian, or other family member. Generally, a court will only consider a request by a parent to terminate his or her own parental rights in very limited circumstances, such as someone wanting to adopt the child.
If the whereabouts of the person whose rights the action seeks to terminate are unknown, the statute provides specific steps that must be taken to attempt to locate the parent. The law also provides that the court should make every effort to resolve a termination case within six (6) months after the complaint is filed.
The process involves investigation and a hearing. Witnesses at the hearing often include experts. The primary question the court will decide is what will be in the best interests of the child. The conduct of the parent will also be evaluated. At the end of the process, the court will enter an order based on the conclusions reached during the process.
Any situation involving an action for termination of parental rights is emotionally difficult for everyone who is involved. Proceeding with the guidance of knowledgeable, compassionate legal counsel is especially important. The child’s well-being and safety are the paramount concern.
Attorney Joseph Gersten always approaches a termination case with sensitivity and understanding. He will apply his extensive experience as well as his investigative background in working with you to determine the best course to pursue. Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.