Termination of Parental Rights In Southern Utah


Termination of Parental Rights in Southern Utah

What is the Termination of Parental Rights?

Terminating a parent’s rights means that the person’s rights as a parent are taken away. The person is not the child’s legal parent anymore. This means:

  • The parent-child relationship no longer exists.
  • The parent no longer gets to raise the child.
  • The parent usually has no right to visit or talk with the child.
  • The parent no longer has to pay child support.
  • The parent is removed from the child’s birth certificate.
  • The child can be adopted without the parent’s permission.

If one or both of a child’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for their child, or they choose to relinquish their rights in favor of someone else, a termination of parental rights legal action may be appropriate so the child can be eligible for adoption. 

Can I Give Up My Rights?

Usually not. Judges want children to have two parents to provide emotional and financial support. You cannot give up your parental rights to avoid dealing with a child’s behavioral problems, and you cannot give up your parental rights to avoid paying child support.

You may voluntarily give up your parental rights if someone else wants to adopt the child, or if someone else has filed a petition to terminate your rights.  You will typically need to go to a court hearing to let the judge know your wishes in person.

A parental rights termination may be initiated by a private individual or Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). If the action is pursued by DCFS, the Utah Attorney General’s office files a Petition with the juvenile court. If any other interested party filed the action, they would be required to represent themselves or have counsel.

The Court will not terminate without a valid reason. These reasons usually include abandonment or abuse. Parental Rights are fundamental and therefore anyone defending such an action is entitled to an attorney. The Court will be required to make the necessary findings, based on the evidence presented to the Court, in order to terminate an individual’s parental rights.

If terminated, all benefits and obligations are also terminated. This includes visitation, decision making, and support.

What Are a Few Reasons to Terminate a Parent’s Rights?

  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Drugs
  • Unfit parent
  • Failure of Parental Adjustment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Abuse

Do I Need An Attorney?

Terminating someone’s parental rights is a very serious matter. It is a good idea to have a lawyer help you since there are complicated laws and procedures that have to be followed.  If DFS filed a case asking to terminate your rights, an attorney will usually be appointed to represent you for free. If the other parent filed a case against you, you should seriously be considering hiring an attorney to defend you.

We here at Ruesch & Reeve represent those individuals seeking termination, as well as individuals that are facing termination.