Termination of Parental Rights in Montclair
The termination of one’s parental rights can be an extremely traumatic experience for adults and their children. Breaking apart a family and forcing children to live away from their parents often results in life-long trauma.
Unfortunately, your family may be at risk of this outcome if the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) finds that any claims against you are substantiated. If a DCPP permanency hearing decides not to reunify your family, you may have your parental rights permanently terminated.
As such, it is essential to seek immediate legal counsel if you are facing termination of parental rights in Montclair. An experienced family attorney could explain the relevant laws in your case and advocate for your rights throughout the process.
Laws Governing the Termination of Parental Rights
In New Jersey, parental rights termination is a civil matter rather than a criminal one. N.J.A.C. §10:133J defines the circumstances for the DCPP to file a petition for termination of parental rights. Additionally, the chapter outlines the procedures a parent must follow to surrender their parental rights in the event of potential adoption by another party.
Under N.J. Rev. Stat. §30:4C-15, the DCPP must file the petition to terminate parental rights under the following circumstances:
- A court has convicted the parent or guardian of a crime relating to child abuse, neglect, abandonment, or cruelty
- The child is under the DCPP’s custody, and their best interests are being harmed by not living within a permanent home
- The child was abandoned and DCPP cannot identify or reach the parent despite reasonable efforts
- A criminal court has convicted the parent or guardian of killing or seriously injuring one of their children
- For one year, a parent or guardian has failed to remove or remediate the conditions or circumstances that led to their child’s placement in DCPP care, despite being financially and physically able to do so
Reasons for DCPP Child Removal
Some of the problems that could potentially cause DCPP to remove a child from the home include:
- A parent’s psychological diagnoses
- Damaging parental behaviors
- Substance abuse issues
If a parent does not work to remediate these issues, they could be at risk of losing their parental rights. As such, any Montclair resident facing termination of their parental rights should seek representation from a seasoned attorney.
Alternatives to Parental Rights Termination
If a parent faces a court action for termination of parental rights in Montclair, there are several options available.
Voluntary Surrendering of Parental Rights
To permanently end the legal relationship with their child without going through an adversarial trial, a parent has the right to two kinds of voluntary surrender: identified and general. In an identified surrender, an individual may name a specific person to adopt their child. In a general surrender, an individual ends their parental relationship, permitting DCPP to seek an appropriate adoptive home for their child.
Kinship Legal Guardianships
When a court determines that a person is unable or unwilling to be a primary caregiver for their child, it may award a kinship legal guardianship if DCPP has attempted family reunification and adoption is unlikely. This would likely allow the parent to visit with their child and determine whether someone else may adopt them. To qualify to be a kinship legal guardian, an individual must have already cared for the child in their home for at least a year.
Placement with a Friend of Relative
If a parent can identify a willing friend or a relative who could adequately care for their child, DCPP may place the child with that caretaker. For DCPP to approve this arrangement, the potential caregiver must complete training for foster parenting and a undergo a home study to ensure a safe environment. This arrangement may require that the parent pay child support to the friend or relative who serves as a caregiver. In addition, the friend or relative may be eligible to receive DCPP funds as a certified foster parent.
Fight to Regain Custody at Trial
If a person wants to retain their parental rights and reunite their family, they may fight to regain custody at trial. An experienced attorney could help defend a Montclair resident against termination of their parental rights.
Consult an Attorney on Termination of Parental Rights in Montclair
Losing your rights as a parent can be a terrifying prospect, but there are options available for protecting and reunifying your family. To pursue any of the above actions against termination of parental rights in Montclair, a well-practiced attorney could evaluate your circumstances and help you determine the right strategy for your case. Contact our firm today to set up an initial consultation.