What Is Required in Order for the State to Terminate Parental Rights?

Your parental rights are the rights you have as a parent, such as the right to see your child, make decisions about your child, and obtain information about your child. These rights are protected, and, in most cases, cannot be violated. If a parent poses a threat to a child, however, he or she may lose parental rights.

The state of New Jersey can terminate parental rights in cases involving child abuse or neglect. The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) can file a complaint, also called a guardianship complaint, which starts a civil action. This action may involve a series of hearings and may lead to trial. If the court finds the DCP&P’s complaint to be substantiated, the parent’s rights may be legally terminated if it is in the child’s best interests to do so. But first the DCP&P must support the complaint with evidence that the parent whose rights may be terminated either abused or neglected the child. Child abuse or neglect will not necessarily be enough to terminate all parental rights, but they may limit them. Typically, it is not in the best interests of the child to lose contact with one parent, but there are cases where the DCP&P and the court may find this to be the best option.

The DCP&P must prove that the parent whose rights are at stake harmed the child and will continue to harm the child. It must also prove that reasonable measures were taken to maintain the parent-child relationship during the child welfare case and that those measures have failed or the parent has not fixed certain problems the DCP&P has identified, such as substance abuse. And, perhaps most importantly, the DCP&P must prove that the benefits of terminating parental rights outweigh the costs of the child losing contact with that parent. There are great costs to terminating parental rights, and so it is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. The DCP&P can also file a complaint to have parental rights terminated if the parent abandons the child or if the parent is convicted of a crime for harming a child.

Terminating parental rights is a serious action. If your parental rights are being terminated, you should speak with an experienced New Jersey custody attorney right away. Once you lose your rights, you may never be able to contact your child again. An attorney can advise you of what rights you do have and help you defend them. Defending yourself in such an action can be complex and requires a detailed knowledge of New Jersey’s child welfare policies and custody statues. You will need an advocate by your side during this process.

Do you have questions about parental rights? Williams Law Group, LLC can help you take the rights steps to ensure your rights are protected and that your child is safe from harm. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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