Process for Termination of Parental Rights in Nevada
The State of Nevada has a specific court process for termination of parental rights. The same process applies, regardless of the circumstances and the reason for terminating a parent’s rights. The process may be voluntary if both parents agree on terminating one biological parent’s rights, or the petition may be contested if a parent does not wish to have their rights terminated. Regardless of the situation, legal representation for a parent participating in a termination proceeding is essential.
What Happens in a Nevada Termination of Parental Rights Proceeding?
In Nevada, a petition requesting the termination of parental rights may be filed by a parent, guardian, or other family member. A child welfare agency or probation officer or another person also may file a petition. Generally, a court only considers a request by a parent to terminate their own parental rights in very limited circumstances, such as when another person (such as a stepparent) wishes to adopt the child.
If the court ultimately grants a termination request, the parent whose rights are terminated no longer has any legal rights or obligations concerning the child. That parent has no custody or visitation rights and does not have any obligation to pay child support. The parent also has no right to communicate with the child and cannot participate in raising the child. The parent’s name is removed from the birth certificate. The child may be adopted by another person without the parent’s consent following the termination.
While there is no obligation to support the child after a termination order from the court, any previous support owed is not eliminated. However, in cases of voluntary termination where the parents agree on the request, the parents may enter into an agreement that includes terms eliminating the previous support obligation.
The statutory process requires the judge to determine whether termination is in the child’s best interests. A petition may be denied if the judge determines termination is not in the child’s best interests. A responding parent may object to termination of their rights by contesting the petition and establishing a basis for denying the request.
For all these reasons, a termination proceeding is a very serious legal matter. If you consider filing a petition for termination of parental rights, or are facing a petition to have your rights terminated, you should talk with an experienced family law attorney before taking any action regarding the petition.
Grounds for a Termination Petition
Parental termination cases occur for different reasons. One situation in which a termination petition may be appropriate is when a biological parent marries or remarries and the child’s stepparent wishes to adopt the child. If the other biological parent agrees to relinquish their parental rights, the termination petition is voluntary. In Clark County, the termination request can be combined with the stepparent’s petition for adoption. In a voluntary termination, the two sides can reach agreement (which may include a waiver of past support obligations) and submit the agreement and a stipulated order to the court.
If the petition is not voluntary, the parent filing the petition must establish the grounds for termination. Nevada law clearly establishes the allowable reasons for a court to grant a termination petition. They include: abandonment, neglect, unfit parent, risk of injury to the child, failure of parental adjustment, and token efforts. The burden of establishing the basis for termination is on the filing party, which is a primary reason that legal representation is crucial if you file a termination petition.
A parent served with a termination petition may contest the request. This situation may occur if the petitioning party misrepresents facts or circumstances in the complaint, and the responding parent wishes to maintain a relationship with the child. Contesting a termination petition requires legal representation, because of the complex laws and procedures that apply.
The Nevada statute provides a specific process for terminating the parental rights of a person whose whereabouts are unknown. The law requires specific steps for attempting to locate the parent before the termination request can be granted by the court.
Regardless of the reason for filing the termination proceeding, the process includes an investigation and hearing. The judge’s primary concern is whether the termination is in the best interests of the child. At the end of the process, the court enters an order based on the conclusions drawn by the judge from the evidence provided during the process. The court may either grant or deny the termination request.
Schedule a Free Consultation About Termination of Parental Rights in Nevada
Getting assistance from a knowledgeable attorney is essential in a Nevada termination of parental rights proceeding. Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten assists clients with termination of parental rights matters both as the petitioning parent and as the respondent to a petition filed by the other parent.
Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment. The Gersten Law Firm helps clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County.