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Termination of Parental Rights

Charlotte Termination of Parental Rights Attorneys

Helping individuals in North Carolina manage the parenting rights process

There may be many situations where a parent has failed to support, abandoned, neglected or abused, or voluntarily cut off their relationship with their child. And, in these unfortunate situations, there may be someone else seeking to adopt that child, or a person or agency with custody of the child might want to pursue a petition to terminate that parent’s parental rights.

In other cases, a petition for termination of parental rights is brought by a parent whose new spouse wants to adopt the child, or by adoptive parents seeking to terminate the parental rights of the biological parents in order to proceed with a Charlotte adoption.

If you have questions about terminating parental rights, or have concerns about your own being terminated, the Charlotte family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can help. We understand that matters of family law can be complicated and emotionally difficult. Let our experienced counsel guide you.

Who can terminate parental rights in Charlotte?

Often, individuals file petitions to terminate parental rights in cases of suspected abuse, drug or alcohol dependency, or neglect. In cases like these, the appropriate North Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) may get involved. Charlotte’s local DSS office is located at 301 Billingsley Road, Charlotte, NC, 28211.

Parents can also petition to terminate the parental rights of the other parent. These typically involve circumstances where the parents are permanently apart, or where one parent abandons the child. Other people eligible to file a petition to terminate parenting rights include:

  • Legal guardians
  • Persons petitioning for adoption
  • Persons who have lived with the child for two or more years

What are the grounds for terminating parental rights?

Termination of parental rights is a very serious action and requires showing the petition meets the grounds for termination and termination of parental rights are in the best interest of the child. Grounds for termination under North Carolina G.S. Chapter 7B-1111 include:

  • Abandoning the child
  • Abusing or neglecting the child
  • Committing a violent felony
  • Drug or alcohol dependency
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Father failing to establish paternity
  • Leaving the child in foster care for more than a year
  • Parent terminated parenting rights of another child

Even if the court determines that grounds do exist to terminate a parent’s rights, they will still consider the best interests of the child when making the decision to terminate parental rights.

Can I terminate parental rights if I don’t know who the parent is?

You can, but there is a specific process you must follow. If the identity of the parent is unknown, the court conducts a preliminary hearing in an attempt to identify the parent. This hearing is required to take place before any termination of parental rights can occur, and the court may decide to conduct a search for the unknown parent before proceeding.

If the court can’t locate the parent, they’ll publish a public notice to notify the parent. If there’s no response and the parent remains unidentified, then the court may issue and order terminating the unknown parent’s rights. Our knowledgeable family law attorneys can help guide you through this multi-step process.

How do I file to terminate someone’s parental rights in Charlotte?

If you wish to terminate someone’s parental rights, you must provide sufficient facts and grounds as outlined in North Carolina law. The courts typically don’t consider broad or general claims enough to terminate a parent’s parental rights, so it’s important to provide as much detailed information as possible to support your petition.

Once you file your petition with the help of your attorney, the court sends a summons to the child’s parent(s), guardian, DSS or other agency, and the child. If the summons isn’t answered within 30 days, the court may issue an order terminating all parental rights, including custodial and visitation rights. If the parent does respond, however, the court holds a hearing to consider the issues in the petition. The parent has the right to attend this hearing with legal representation.

Can I voluntarily sign over my parental rights?

There might be instances where a parent wants to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. Perhaps either the parent – or the child – no longer wants to be part of each other’s lives. Note, however, North Carolina doesn’t allow a parent to terminate their own parenting rights to escape any sort of child support payments.

If a stepparent is planning on adopting your child and you want to sign over parental rights, you can do this as part of the adoption process.

Can I get my parental rights reinstated?

If you are a parent, guardian, child or agency involved in a termination proceeding and seek to appeal the court’s decision, you must give notice of intent to appeal within 10 days of the court order. The court has the discretion to give temporary custody for a child’s placement while an appeal is pending – but only according to what’s in the child’s best interests. There are very limited circumstances under which terminated parental rights might be reinstated.

Motions to change or dismiss termination of parental rights, however, aren’t guaranteed a hearing. Our skilled Charlotte attorneys can work with you if you have questions about making an appeal.

Accomplished Charlotte termination of parental rights lawyers

If you’re facing a situation concerning termination of parental rights, it’s important to work with knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys like the ones at Epperson Law Group, PLLC. We understand the implications and importance of this process, and will guide you every step of the way. Our offices are just minutes off the NC-16. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.

Charlotte Office

10851 Sikes Place
Charlotte, NC 28277