Termination of Parental Rights - English
- What does it mean if my parental rights are terminated?
- How are the rights of a parent terminated?
- What are the possible legal reasons for terminating parental rights?
- If my children enter foster care, when can the foster care agency try to terminate my rights?
- Are there any reasons why ACS does not have to file a petition to terminate parental rights?
- Will I get a lawyer?
- Can I do anything to avoid a trial and keep my rights from being terminated?
- If I voluntarily place my children into foster care, can my parental rights be terminated?
- What if my rights have already been terminated?
- What if I am in jail or prison?
- Can I voluntarily terminate my parental rights?
- Can I place conditions on what will happen to my children if I terminate my rights?
1. New York City Children’s Services (This used to be called the Administration for Children’s Services or ACS. ACS used to be called BCW or CWA), or a foster care agency caring for your child, files a petition (pe-TI-shun) in Family Court asking a judge to terminate your rights. A petition is a request. The petition must give a legal reason for the termination. The legal reason is called a ground. (Examples of grounds are listed below.)
2. Then there will be a trial called a fact-finding hearing. During the fact-finding hearing, ACS will try to prove that there are grounds for termination. ACS will also have to show that they have tried to reunite your family. Reunite means have your children come home to you. The process of showing the judge that they have tried to reunite the family is called showing reasonable efforts. (For more information on reasonable efforts, see below.) At the end of the fact-finding hearing, the judge decides whether or not your rights will be terminated.
3. After the fact findinghearing, there is a dispositional (dis-po-ZI-shun-al) hearing. This is when the judge decides where the children should live. If your rights have been terminated, the judge may decide that your children can be adopted by their foster parents or by someone else.
There are five legal reasons, or grounds, that can be used to terminate your rights. The two most common reasons are:
Abandonment (a-BAN-don-ment): This means that you did not communicate with your children at all in the six months before ACS or the foster care agency asked to terminate your rights.
Permanent Neglect: This means that you did not make plans for the future of your children and you did not work with ACS or the foster care agency caring for your children for more than one year after your children entered foster care.
The three other grounds are mental illness, mental retardation, and severe and repeated abuse.
Yes. There are three reasons:
When your children are being cared for by a relative.
When there is a compelling reason why it would not be best for your child if your rights were terminated. Compelling means very, very good.
When ACS has not made reasonable efforts to reunite your family. Reasonable efforts means working with you and providing you with the services and referrals you need to have your children come home.
Yes. This can happen if ACS or the foster care agency determines that you have not made realistic plans to have your children come back to you since placing them in foster care.
To prove this, ACS must show that it tried to help you reunite your family. If you keep a record of your contact with the foster care agency, this will help show what the agency did or did not do to help reunite your family.Appealing Family Court Orders.”
If you are in jail or prison, it is important for you to have as much contact as possible with your children. Saving copies of letters you send to your children and keeping a record of all calls and visits will help show that you have not neglected or abandoned them. Participating in programs while in jail or prison can help show that you are making plans to care for your children when you are released.
Please note: Even if you are in jail or prison, you still have a right to visit with your children. ACS or the agency caring for your children must bring them to visit you in jail or prison. Keeping track of these visits can also help show that you have not neglected or abandoned them.