Cedar Rapids Termination of Parental Rights Attorneys
A parent’s rights to make decisions for and care for a child are taken very seriously, and those rights can only be terminated by a court order. Parental rights can be terminated only for certain specific causes such as abuse, neglect, abandonment, a risk to the child’s safety or well-being, or in some cases, with the mutual consent of the parents. This would be the first step towards removing the child from the dangerous situation they face in a parent’s home. Termination of parental rights may also be a first step in adopting a child.
Any situation involving the safety of a child is stressful and full of uncertainty, for the child as well as for the adults involved in the child’s life. If your case concerns the termination of parental rights, the experienced child protection lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC can help. We provide compassionate, dedicated legal representation to every client, and no case is too challenging for us.
Call us right away at (319) 363-8199 to set up a free consultation.
Why You Need A Lawyer
In any case involving your child’s welfare, you want to be sure that everything you do is in their best interest. You need to have an attorney by your side who understands your child’s needs and the circumstances of your case. Iowa family law can be complex, and a good lawyer will know exactly what evidence is needed and what steps to take to ensure that your child is in a safe and healthy environment.
If your goal is to protect the child from an abusive home situation, you will need to provide evidence of the abuse. An attorney can help obtain and organize medical documentation, witness reports, and financial records to build a solid case that the custodial parent is either not living up to their responsibilities or is actively abusing the child.
Why Arenson Law Group, PC Is the Best Choice To Handle Your Case
The family lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC understand Iowa’s parental rights laws. We’ve helped many clients in the same situation, who are facing the uncertainty that comes with a court case involving their children. We understand that your child’s health and safety is your first priority. Courts are often reluctant to terminate a parent’s rights, so you need an attorney experienced in family law who can convince a judge that the termination would be in the child’s best interests.
When you hire Arenson Law Group, PC, you gain a team of legal advocates who will be by your side through this entire ordeal. We can help you understand the whole process and what is required to make sure you and your child are able to live free of abuse, neglect, and worry.
Understanding Termination of Parental Rights in Iowa
Iowa courts take the parent-child relationship seriously. There is a presumption that the natural parents are in the best position to make decisions and provide care for their own children. While this is often the case, some parents may be extremely unqualified caregivers or may even endanger their children. In order to terminate a parent’s parental rights, you must first prove certain grounds, such as:
- Physical abuse of the child
- Sexual abuse of the child
- Severe emotional or psychological abuse of the child
- Neglect of the child, by failing to provide food, shelter, or other care required by parental obligations
- Neglect or abuse of other children in the same household
- Child abandonment
- The parent’s extreme disinterest in fulfilling their responsibilities to the child
- A felony conviction of the parent for a violent crime against the child or another member of the household
- Risk to the child if they remain in the parent’s household
Certain facts about the parent may also provide grounds for termination of their parental rights, including:
- The parent’s long-term mental illness
- Long-term drug or alcohol abuse by the parent
- The parent’s felony conviction and imprisonment, which prevents them from caring for the child
- A parent’s voluntary relinquishment of their parental rights
- Encouraging or forcing the child to commit illegal acts
- Giving birth to a child addicted to drugs
- Failure to provide financial support for the child after being ordered to do so
Note that it is possible for a parent to voluntarily agree to the termination of their parental rights. Under Iowa law, a parent cannot simply decide to give up their parental rights, but if it is requested, a parent may consent to the termination for the good of the child. In most cases, a parent can’t relinquish their responsibility to make child support payments, however.
Frequently Asked Questions About Termination of Parental Rights
What steps do I need to take to terminate my spouse’s parental rights?
If the child is subject to abuse or neglect, the first step would be to have the situation investigated by a child protective services department. As the child’s parent or guardian (the “petitioner”), you would file a petition in juvenile court asking a judge to terminate the rights of the other parent. The petition must include the grounds under which you are seeking termination and other relevant facts and information.
The parent whose rights you are seeking to terminate (the “respondent”) must be served with the petition and would need to either hire a lawyer or have the court appoint one for them. After notice has been served on all parties, a termination hearing must be scheduled.
Guardian ad litem – The court may appoint a guardian ad litem, an independent person with legal training whose job it is to identify solutions that would be in the best interests of the child. The guardian ad litem may advise the court on which parent can provide the best living situation for the child, whether the child is being harmed by an abusive situation in the parent’s home, and what sort of contact the child should have with the parent.
The court may even appoint a separate attorney to represent the child’s legal interests. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling on whether to grant or dismiss the termination order.
How long will it take to terminate parental rights?
The process of terminating parental rights can be long and difficult. Courts don’t take this power lightly. Even in cases of abuse, the charges must be investigated, and evidence presented before a judge will make a ruling. If the child is in more immediate danger, a judge may grant a temporary restraining order to keep the child safe. If there is an immediate danger to the child or there is an emergency, call 911. If you need help with a dangerous situation, there are child abuse and domestic abuse hotlines you can call:
- Iowa Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-362-2178
- Children and Families of Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline (Cedar Rapids): (800) 208-0388
What if I’m trying to adopt the child?
In cases of adoption, the birth parents’ parental rights must be terminated before the new parents can adopt the child. The birth parents may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights and sign a release of custody. In cases of abuse or neglect, however, the court may involuntarily terminate the birth parents’ parental rights in order to place the child in foster care. Once the court grants the termination order, the adoption may proceed. As the adoptive parent(s), you may be expected to pay for costs associated with the termination and for the child’s care during the court proceedings.
What do I do if someone is trying to terminate my parental rights?
If you have been served with papers to terminate your parental rights, you need to hire a lawyer right away. It’s a frightening situation to be told your child may be taken away, and in Iowa, there is no legal provision for reinstatement of those rights. But the parental rights attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC can help. We will help you draft and file a response to the petition, and help you prepare for the hearing when it arrives. Don’t despair. Our legal staff can make sure all your rights are upheld throughout the case so that we can obtain the best resolution for you and your child.
Speak With a Termination of Parental Rights Lawyer Today
Whether you are the other parent, you’re trying to adopt a child, or you’re trying to protect a child from abuse in their home, if you’re going through a case involving termination of parental rights, you need an attorney who knows Iowa family law to handle your case. The knowledgeable family law lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC are committed to supporting you through this difficult period. Don’t trust your child’s future to just any attorney. Your success and your family’s well-being are important to us. We care about reaching a successful outcome for you and your child.
We understand how scary it can be for children and for parents to go through an ordeal like this, but we can help. You don’t have to face this alone. Our firm is experienced in family law, and we’ve helped many clients in the same situation as you. Call Arenson Law Group, PC right away at (319) 363-8199 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.