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Phoenix AZ Family Law Blog

Friday, February 22, 2019

How are parental rights severed?

When people think about adoption, they often picture unwed teens voluntarily giving their newborns up, often to a couple that’s unable to have a baby of their own. But this kind of adoption is only one of many situations where the parental rights of biological parents are severed. 

Phoenix severance of parental rights attorneys handle cases where biological parents voluntarily give up their legal rights to their child as well as cases where the parents rights may be involuntarily severed. 

In addition to the voluntary adoption described above, other examples of situations where parental ties are voluntarily severed include situations when biological parents agree to give up their rights to the child due to their serious illness or incapacitation, drug or alcohol addiction, mental health issues, impoverishment, and other reasons where they recognize and agree that their child would be better cared for by others--like grandparents, close relatives, or well-vetted strangers in emotionally and financially stable relationships. 

Another common situation where parental rights are voluntarily severed occurs in stepparent adoption where one parent gives up their legal rights and responsibilities to the child so that the co-parent’s new spouse will be free to adopt the child and assume those parental rights and responsibilities toward them.

Unfortunately, there are several instances when parental ties are involuntarily severed. Such drastic action requires that a child be found to be in imminent physical, mental, or emotional danger so that their safety and well-being requires such a last-resort action. Examples of some of the many circumstances that can lead to involuntary severance of parental rights include abuse, neglect, or abandonment of the child: long-term or chronic illness or mental deficiency of the parent that prevents them from caring for the child: parental incarceration or conviction of a felony; history of sexual abuse, and more. 

In an uncommon situation, a woman who adopted a toddler through an agency with the consent of her biological parents (who had reportedly given the baby up so they could focus on their music careers) took the concept of “open adoption” pretty far. 

An open adoption is where the biological/birth parents and the adoptive parents agree to some level of openness after the adoption rather than a closed adoption where there is no contact or communication at all. But sometimes defining what “open” will be can be complicated.

In the case at hand, after a couple years of exchanging messages on social media and occasionally meeting face-to-face, the adoptive mother took the birth parents into her home when they became homeless. According to the adoptive mom, their allegedly differing lifestyles and work ethics led to misunderstandings and hurt feelings which over time reportedly strained the relationship and led to an alleged estrangement with the birth parents who now live in a different state. 
If you need assistance with an adoption, a stepparent adoption, or a petition to sever the parental rights of someone else, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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


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