October 8, 2010

Terminating Parental Rights in Utah

Legal Grounds for Terminating Parental Rights

The state of Utah, as with every other state, has legislation enabling a court to terminate a person’s parental rights.  This action severs the legal relationship (generally to allow for adoption by another).  Termination may come at the request of the parent who wishes to end the relationship, or it may be involuntary.

Voluntary Relinquishment

Making a decision to relinquish your rights as a parent is a very serious one, and one that cannot be undone.  You are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of our Utah Parental Rights Attorneys to discuss your concerns and your options.

Termination, upon request, will not be automatically granted upon a validly filed request.  A court will determine what is in the best interest of the child and it will be presumed, although rebuttable, that termination is not in the best interest of the child if the purpose is determined to be avoidance of financial support obligations.

Involuntary Relinquishment

Under Utah law, a court may terminate one’s parental rights if it finds any one of the following:

  • that the parent has abandoned the child;
  • that the parent has neglected or abused the child;
  • that the parent is unfit or incompetent;
  • that the child is being cared for in an out-of-home placement, the parent has substantially neglected, willfully refused, or has been unable or unwilling to remedy the circumstances that cause the child to be in an out-of-home placement, and there is a substantial likelihood that the parent will not be capable of exercising proper and effective parental care in the near future;
  • that only token efforts have been made by the parent to support or communicate with the child, prevent neglect of the child, eliminate the risk of serious harm to the child, or avoid being an unfit parent;
  • that, after a period of trial during which the child was returned to live at home, the parent substantially and continuously refused or failed to give the child proper parental care and protection.

Local Family Law Attorneys Can Assist

If you or a loved one are facing the possibility of having your parental rights terminated, or if you are considering the voluntary termination of such rights, you should seek counsel from legal professionals who understand your legal situation and your options.  Such an important decision should not be made without deep consideration.  For a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney who will be sensitive to your situation, call Utah Divorce Hotline at 801.618.1331.