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Can I terminate my ex’s parental rights?

Like most single parents in Arizona, you have disagreements with your ex-spouse over many things, from discipline and rules to helping the kids with homework and even safety issues. It is understandable to want to be the only parent making the decisions without interference or conflict with your ex. The thought of having your ex’s parental rights terminated may sound like an ideal solution, but it is important to understand that terminating rights can be complex, and the law allows few valid reasons for doing so.

The termination of parental rights removes a parent’s legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, as well as visitation rights and other privileges that parents have, explains FindLaw. Usually, the courts will terminate rights without the parent’s consent only when the child’s safety or well-being is in jeopardy. The following examples may clarify when you might be able to petition the court to remove your ex’s parental rights:

  • Your ex was physically, verbally or sexually abusive to you or the children while you were together.
  • The children routinely express fear or anxiety about visiting their parent.
  • Child Protective Services investigated and believe the children would not be safe in the other parent’s home.
  • A debilitating accident or mental or physical condition makes it impossible for your ex to care for the children.
  • Your ex has abandoned the children or expresses no desire to see, care for or support them.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse creates an unstable and unsafe environment when your children are visiting.

Before you take the steps to have your ex’s parental rights terminated, you might consider reasons not to have this done. If your ex does not pose a safety risk and is merely absent, he or she might later want to be involved in their lives. Also, terminating parental rights means no more child support. This decision is not one to take lightly, and may require experienced counsel.

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