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One of the most contested issues in family law tends to be the termination of parental rights. Some parents are interested in knowing how to give up parental rights in Utah while others will do anything to prevent their rights from being terminated. No matter which side parents are on, having a judge decide the future of your relationship with your child can be a nerve-wracking experience. When it comes to issues like custody battles, terminating parental rights, and other issues involving children, courts are often focused on what’s in the best interest of the children, which may complicate matters when termination of parental rights is involved.

What Does Termination Mean?

Simply put, termination of parental rights means that the parents no longer have any rights or obligations to or for their biological child. But terminating legal rights to your children has severe consequences. If your parental rights are terminated, you will not be entitled to parent-time, contact with the child, or have any legal right to govern the child’s life. In fact, you no longer even have the right to receive any information about the child. Whoever receives custody and control of the child, by adoption or permanent custody, has no obligation to facilitate a relationship with you and your biological child without a court ordering them to do so. This also means that you would no longer have a say in religious, medical, or educational decisions regarding your child.

Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

Termination of parental rights means you no longer have a legal obligation to support your child financially or otherwise. So, if your rights are terminated, you do not have to pay child support. Some people may want to terminate their parental rights in order to avoid paying child support or being legally liable for the child or their actions. This is not a viable solution to getting out of child support. In fact, the law states this motive for termination is grounds for refusing to allow a voluntary termination of parental rights. This is because the state believes it’s in the best interest of the child to have two parents to support them, even if one parent is only supporting them by paying child support and has no contact with the child. Though it is possible for a judge to rule that it’s in the child’s best interests for a parent to terminate their rights, the circumstances would have to be extraordinary. The courts are more lenient and likely to grant termination of parental rights where there is another person, generally a step-parent, seeking to adopt the child.

When Are Rights Terminated?

Parental rights are normally terminated when the child has been neglected or abused, or one or both of the parents are willing to voluntarily terminate their rights to the child. The courts will generally only allow voluntary termination when it facilitates a step-parent adoption or there are some other extraordinary circumstances warranting the termination. Parental rights are not always terminated when a child is removed from the home due to abuse or neglect. In most cases, the state has an obligation to take reasonable steps to reunify the child with the parent. In order to terminate a parents rights the court has to determine that there are sufficient grounds, it’s in the best interest of the child, and that it’s strictly necessary. The court will also consider reasonable alternatives, such as permanent guardianship. In that case the court will place the child in the custody and care of another person but not formally sever the parent-child relationship with the biological parent.

How to Give up Parental Rights in Utah

To voluntarily relinquish your rights in Utah, there are forms available online that you can fill out and file with the court. Once the forms are filed, the clerk will schedule a hearing. This hearing will determine whether or not it’s in your child’s best interests for your parental rights to be terminated. As previously stated, the state generally believes that it’s in the child’s best interest to receive financial support from both parents, even if one parent is unwilling or unable to provide physical or emotional care for the child. Unless another person is willing to adopt the child, a judge is unlikely to grant such a petition outside of extraordinary circumstances.

Can Rights Be Restored?

Once parental rights have been terminated, it’s almost impossible to have them restored. Only under very specific circumstances can a court consider restoration of parental rights. The website where the forms are available even warns visitors that, once rights are relinquished, you cannot change your mind. The courts generally feel as though it’s in the best interests of the child to have a stable life and environment. A child’s parent or parents coming in and out of their lives threatens that stability. If a child is thriving and happy, a judge would be less likely to make changes to parental rights or custody. 

Can Rights Be Restored?

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to give up parental rights in Utah, or you’re trying to make sure your rights aren’t terminated, you should at least consult with an attorney. You can appeal a termination of parental rights but they generally aren’t overturned. An attorney can help you figure out whether or not there’s a basis for an appeal. The time to file an appeal of an order terminating parental rights is extremely short, usually 15 days after the order is entered. It’s much easier to prevent your rights from being terminated, than attempting to get your rights restored. If you’re concerned about your rights as a parent, contact CoilLaw today. 

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