Termination of Parental Rights in New Jersey
State law places significant emphasis on the bond between a parent and their child, so anyone seeking to terminate someone’s parental rights will likely face several legal obstacles. Even if someone allows their parental rights to be terminated voluntarily, they need to fill out certain paperwork and complete specific procedures to make that action legally binding.
No matter the circumstances leading up to it, the termination of parental rights in New Jersey is not something you should try to handle by yourself. A skilled child custody attorney could help you understand the nuances of these proceedings and work tirelessly to protect your and your child’s best interests every step of the way.
Voluntary Termination before Adoption
Whether the termination of parental rights in New Jersey occurs voluntarily or involuntarily, it must always be done with the best interests of the child in mind. To that end, the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency (NJDCP&P) must provide any parent who expresses a desire to terminate their parental rights with counseling opportunities before any binding decision such as adoption can be made.
Once a parent is certain about giving up their rights, they must prove before both NJDCP&P and a local court that doing so is in their child’s best interests. They must also complete a Voluntary Surrender of Parental Rights Form communicating that idea. Most importantly, they must identify who they will surrender their parental rights to, such as a prospective adoptive couple, family member, or friend, depending on the circumstances. Once this procedure is complete, the termination of parental rights is permanent.
When Can New Jersey Courts Involuntarily Terminate Parental Rights?
In addition to voluntary terminations, state courts also have the authority to compel the involuntary termination of parental rights under the very specific circumstances defined by New Jersey Revised Statutes § 30:4C-15. The child’s best interests are paramount during this proceeding, so if the party seeking termination cannot prove conclusively that taking away a parent’s rights is necessary to protect their child, the termination will be denied.
The five grounds under which a parent’s rights may be involuntarily terminated are:
- The parent was convicted of a criminal offense that involved abusing, neglecting, or treating the child in any other way deemed to be cruel
- Placing the child under guardianship is necessary to protect them from harm the parent caused or is likely to cause them
- The parent failed to correct a problem like drug addiction, psychological issues, or unsanitary living conditions within one year of the date their child was previously removed from the home
- The parent has abandoned their child for a prolonged period of time, and state authorities cannot determine where the parent is despite concerted efforts to find them
- The parent was convicted of committing or attempting to commit murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, assault, or any other crime resulting in or risking serious injury or death of a child
Any of these circumstances would warrant the termination of a New Jersey resident’s parental rights, and a skilled attorney could further explain the impact of each scenario.
Learn More about Parental Rights Termination from a New Jersey Attorney
The termination of parental rights is an extreme measure that can only be undertaken in specific circumstances, so conclusively proving the necessary factors is an essential component of any case. Whether you want to pursue voluntary termination, justify involuntary termination, or fight a petition for involuntary termination filed against you, seasoned legal counsel could be crucial to effectively seeking the case result you want. Talk to a determined family lawyer today if you have any questions about termination of parental rights in New Jersey.