We often get questions about how to terminate a parent’s parental rights. There are two ways to terminate a parent’s rights: through a contested proceeding proving that the parent is unfit or through a voluntary relinquishment. In either case, a court must find that it is in the best interest of a child for that child’s parent’s rights to be terminated.
Unfitness can be shown in many ways, including, but not limited to: abuse, neglect or abandonment. Usually unfitness must be shown by clear and convincing evidence.
Even if a parent wants to voluntarily relinquish his/her parental rights, in order for termination of their parental rights to be legal, a court must accept that voluntary relinquishment.
It is against public policy for a court to legally “bastardize” a child by terminating a parent’s rights unless there is someone else to step in and accept and take on those parental rights (by adoption), unless it can be shown that it is clearly in the best interest of the child.
Utah law regarding the termination of parental rights is found in the Termination of Parental Rights Act, Utah Code 78A-6-501 through 78A-6-515.
Often times termination of parental rights is sought in conjunction with adoption.
Please reply with any questions or comments you have with regards to this information.