Filing for Termination of Parental Rights


I’ve been looking through the forum and couldn’t find specifics on filing for Termination of parental rights. I’m trying to do it myself and everything I’m finding is about GALs on the case.

When I serve the father is he forced to respond within 30 days or else I can enter a default against him?

Is it necessary to put “In the Matter of A.B.C.” (child’s initials) in my initial petition with the court? It seems there’s not much about the father in the sample petition’s available through the GAL trainings, which are really the only resources I’ve found.

Thanks for all your help!

When you serve the father with a termination of parental rights (TPR) petition, he is required to respond within 30 days. A default judgment (granting the petitioner their requested relief because the respondent did not file an answer) is not allowed in TPR actions. A hearing with a judge must occur in a TPR action, regardless of whether or not the respondent (father in your case) files an answer.

The case heading should be “In the matter of A.B.C” or whatever the minor child’s initials are. This is to protect the privacy of the juvenile. Some case headings also include the child’s date of birth.

Am I right that the opposing party in a Terminatino of Parental Rights proceeding is entitled to a court appointed lawyer?

There are a lot of statutes but do I have to ask the court to appoint the lawyer in my request for relief?

Yes, the respondent parent in a termination of parental rights proceeding is entitled to an attorney and a court appointed attorney will be provided if the respondent parent is found to be indigent.

Assuming you are the petitioner in such a proceeding, you do not have to ask the Court to appoint the respondent parent a lawyer. The Court will do so automatically (if the respondent is indigent).

What are the consquences if the opposing party doesn’t respond within 30 days to my petition? Do they admit to my petition then?

A respondent party in a termination of parental rights (TPR) proceeding does not automatically admit the allegations in the petition if they do not file an answer within 30 days of being served with the TPR petition. There is no default judgment in TPR proceedings.

Whether or not the respondent party filed an answer, the court must still hold a pre-trial hearing on the TPR issue.