A termination of parental rights petition is brought to permanently end the legal rights of biological parents. The purpose of a termination is to allow the child to be adopted.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires the filing of a termination petition if a child has been in foster care for fifteen (15) of the last twenty-two (22) months. Termination petitions often allege a parent has permanently neglected their child for at least twelve (12) months by failing to maintain contact with the child and plan for the future of the child, that the parent has legally abandoned the child for at least six (6) months, has severely or repeatedly abused the child, or has a mental illness or other condition that prevents the parent from caring for the child.
If, after a hearing, a court decides that none of the above allegations are proven, the termination petition may be dismissed. While the child may remain in foster care after the dismissal, a parent is one step closer to reunification with their child. If the allegations are proven, the parent is entitled to a hearing to determine what would be in the child’s best interests.
Just because a court finds that allegations have been proven, a parents rights may not be terminated. Often, a child’s best interests may be served by granting a parent who has been shown recent improvement and recent compliance a suspended judgment. This will be a parent’s last chance to regain custody of their child.
Termination proceedings are very emotional and the stakes are extremely high. Having an experienced attorney to guide you through each phase of a termination is essential. If you are subjected to such a proceeding, or if you have any questions, please contact Nelson, Robinson & El Ashmawy, PLLC by email or call us at (212) 962-1740 and let us help you protect your rights.