Termination of Parental Rights

A motion to terminate a parent’s rights is usually the last step taken by a children’s service’s agency. Before that, parent’s may be given time to improve their situation. Often parents are required to participate in a case plan. The case plan sets out the issues that parents must solve or improve. Parents may be required to take classes, get stable housing or seek counseling. If the situation doesn’t improve the agency will take further steps.

Motion for Permanent Custody If a child has been in the temporary custody of an agency for 12 months in a 24 month period, the agency is required to file a motion for permanent custody. The agency may file for permanent custody if the child was neglected, abused or dependent.

Whether the agency files a motion for permanent custody depends on certain factors. It depends on the situation that lead to the placement of the child with the agency. It depends on the progress made by the parents to over-come those problems.

The agency must establish that it is in the child’s best interest to grant permanent custody.

The agency must also prove that:

  • the child cannot be placed with his parents in a reasonable time; or
  • should not be placed with his parents; or
  • the child is abandoned; or
  • the child is orphaned and no relatives can take him; or
  • the child has been in the temporary custody of an agency for 12 of 24 consecutive months.

The agency must make a good faith effort to implement a case plan to reunify the parents and child. However, the agency does not have to implement every part of the case plan. A court will grant permanent custody if the parents fail to meet the plan requirements.

Once an order granting permanent custody is issued, the parents are no longer parties in the case, except as to appeal.

Right to Appointed Counsel:

Parents must receive proper notice that a motion for permanent custody has been filed. Parents have legal rights. Those rights include the right to a full hearing and the right to appointed counsel. Parents should call the court to request an attorney immediately.

This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice. Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Updated May 2012. CE-42-F168-CLAS