Severing Parental Rights in Arizona

Q: How can a parent’s parental rights be severed?

Once you become a parent, you’ll probably enjoy a strong life-long bond with your child. But Phoenix severance of parental rights attorneys know that sometimes parental rights can be legally severed. This can happen voluntarily or involuntarily.

Voluntary severance of parental ties may happen when biological parents, for any number of reasons, agree that their child would be better cared for by somebody else. The reasons for that decision vary greatly but could include instances where the parents are either seriously ill, incapacitated, mentally-challenged, impoverished, drug addicts, alcoholics, or unwed teens. Often, grandparents or another relative may adopt the child after the biological parent’s parental ties are severed. In addition, there are cases where a biological parent voluntarily severs ties to open the door for the other parent’s new spouse to pursue a stepparent adoption of the child.

Involuntary severance of parental ties is obviously more complicated and traumatic and requires demonstrating that the drastic move is essential for the safety and well-being of the child.

Some situations which would place a child in physical, mental, or emotional danger sufficient to warrant proceedings to involuntarily sever parental ties can include but aren’t limited to:

  • chronic neglect or abuse of children in the household

  • parental incapacity due to chronic substance abuse

  • parental incarceration

  • abandonment of the child

  • parental history of sexual abuse

  • mental deficiency or psychiatric illness rendering the parent incapable of adequate childcare

Recently, Phoenix Children’s Hospital officials contacted authorities when they suspected the father of a one-month old baby of child abuse. The baby was reportedly hospitalized with “a severe brain injury and his father arrested on suspicion of shaking and throwing the boy”. The father is “facing two counts of second-degree child abuse” and reportedly admitted to “violently shaking the boy four times… and throwing the child on the bed… ” Further, 911 wasn’t called until more than nine hours after the initial incident, when the mother allegedly returned home to find the baby unresponsive, according to authorities.

The other parent, grandparents or relatives, healthcare professionals, foster parents, and Arizona Child Protective Services all have the right to petition the court to sever someone’s parental rights. 

If you have questions regarding the severance or reinstatement of parental rights in Arizona, or any other family law matter, Cohen Family Law can help you through this turbulent and emotional time. Contact us today to request a consultation.

From our office in Phoenix, we are completely focused on helping clients throughout Arizona navigate their family law issues.