A private affair: Terminating parental rights without state intervention
Posted on 02/15/2017 at 08:28 AM by Regan Wilson
To most people, hearing about someone’s parental rights being terminated triggers the notion that the parent has done something reprehensible to the child, such as physical or mental abuse. In cases where the Department of Human Services is involved, that notion rings true; however, there is also the class of cases brought against the seemingly adequate parent and those legal matters are referred to as private termination of parental rights actions.
In a private termination of parental rights, the parent or guardian of the child or prospective parent may bring an action against the child’s parent alleging the parent has not “affirmatively assumed the duties of a parent”. Under Iowa law, a parent demonstrates a commitment to the child by providing for the child, financially, and by either visiting the child monthly when physically and financially able to do so or regular communication with the child. In either case, the court will take into consideration whether the custodial parent is preventing the non-custodial parent from contact with the child.
Recently, In re D.B., the Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision to terminate a father’s parental rights when the father had not paid child support for two years and who had intermittent visitation with the child. The Iowa Court of Appeals approved the district court’s finding that “[p]laying with the child a few hours a month is not exhibiting an affirmative parental role coupled with the ‘rights, duties, or privileges inherent in the parent-child relationship.”
Many times, a private termination of parental rights proceeding is initiated as a precursor to an adoption. For further information on private termination of parental rights proceedings or on what needs to be accomplished prior to an adoption, contact Regan Wilson.
The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.
- Regan Wilson
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