Termination of Parental Rights in Fort Lee

Under most circumstances, New Jersey courts assume that it is best for a child to have a relationship with both parents, whether that means that they both have custody rights or that one parent is limited to structured visitation. In extreme situations, though, the state may find it appropriate to terminate a parent’s rights over their child—or, if a parent consents to adoption, they may give up those rights voluntarily.

Either way, guidance from a seasoned child custody attorney can be key to ensuring that the termination of parental rights in Fort Lee proceeds as smoothly as possible with minimal negative impact on the child. Likewise, if you wish to fight the termination of your own parental rights, skilled legal representation is vital to improving your chances of a positive resolution.

When Can Parental Rights Be Involuntarily Terminated?

New Jersey Revised Statutes §30:4C-15 specifies five scenarios under which the State of New Jersey may seek to have someone’s parental rights terminated in Fort Lee without their consent:

  • A court has convicted the parent of criminal abuse, abandonment, neglect, or cruel treatment of the child
  • A court has convicted the parent of murder, aggravated manslaughter, or murder of another of their children; conspiracy to commit any such offense against any of their children; attempted or actual assault of any of their children resulting in or creating legitimate risk of severe injury; or any act which did result or reasonably could have resulted in such injury to or the death of any of their children
  • The parent has abandoned the child
  • After one year, the previous placement of the child in the state’s care and reasonable efforts of an authorized state agency have both been unsuccessful at prompting the parent to remedy the circumstances which led to the child being removed in the first place
  • Placing the child under guardianship would be in their best interests

If any of these circumstances apply, the Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P) (formerly known as DYFS) may initiate a civil action by filing a removal complaint. The agency would then bear the burden of proving through successive hearings and a court trial that the defendant parent has harmed and would continue to harm the child unless their rights are terminated, and that terminating their rights is in the child’s best interests.

Importantly, a parent cannot file in court to terminate the parental rights of the child’s other parent. Only the State of New Jersey can institute such proceedings.

How to Voluntarily Terminate Parental Rights

In Fort Lee, parental rights generally cannot be terminated voluntarily unless the purpose is to allow a child’s adoption. However, parents currently involved in DCP&P termination proceedings may agree not to challenge the agency’s findings and voluntarily surrender their rights.

Alternatively, it may be possible for a parent to avoid having their parental rights involuntarily terminated by instead working with DCP&P to arrange for a Kinship Legal Guardian to have custody over the child, or by executing an Identified Surrender where the parent(s) is allowed to choose who will adopt their child. A skilled family lawyer can discuss these and other possible options in detail during a confidential consultation.

Learn More About Termination of Parental Rights in Fort Lee

Terminating parental rights is a serious undertaking. With support from experienced legal representation, it is possible to enforce your own rights during this kind of case and increase your odds of securing a favorable outcome.

The compassionate counsel at Moskowitz Law Group can answer questions and address concerns about the termination of parental rights in Fort Lee. Call today to learn more.

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