Termination Of Parental Rights

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Termination Of Parental Rights

Termination Of Parental Rights

When parents in San Diego neglect their obligations or endanger their children, they may face legal action to terminate their parental rights. This action involves removal of all the rights and responsibilities associated with being a parent, while ensuring that the adult will no longer have a say in the child’s upbringing.

Termination of parental rights is a permanent action under California law and is reversible only if the parent meets certain stringent standards set by the family court. In practice, such reversals are rare. In San Diego, this legal action usually occurs in cases of child abandonment or situations where the parent poses a risk to the child's safety.

Parental rights termination cases in San Diego can be complex and challenging. These proceedings involve the total severance of a parent's relationship with their child, which requires substantial evidence to justify. Based on this, the process can be emotionally taxing for all parties involved.

If you are facing a custody dispute or are concerned about your child's safety, you should reach out to our skilled and compassionate San Diego attorneys at Moshtael Family Law, who specialize in child custody and parental rights matters. With over 185 years of cumulative experience in the field, we have the expertise to successfully support you through this emotionally difficult and legally complex journey.

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

California Family Code outlines well-defined conditions when parental rights can be terminated. Here are the legal grounds for terminating parental rights in San Diego.


Abandonment of a child in San Diego may occur under various circumstances, including:

  • The parents left the child without any provision for identifying their identities, such as leaving the child at a foster care center or a church.
  • The parents (or the sole custodial parent) left the child in the care of another person (with the intention of abandoning the child) for at least six months without providing any support or communication.
  • One parent left the child in the care of the other parent for at least one year without providing any financial support or communication and intending to abandon the child.

Cruelty or Neglect

When a child has been subjected to neglect or cruelty by one or both parents, a San Diego family court may terminate their parental rights. The definition of cruelty covers a range of behaviors, including sexual abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and other forms of cruel treatment.

Felony Conviction

If one or both parents have been found guilty of a felony and the nature of the crime indicates that the parent is unsuitable to have the child’s custody or control in future, their parental rights may be terminated. Pertaining to this, the family court in San Diego may consider a parent's criminal history to see if it reveals a pattern of criminal conduct that affects the child's well-being or the parent's capability to provide for the child.

Parent’s Disability Caused by Moral Depravity or Addiction

If a parent in San Diego has a physical or mental incapacity that stems from their chronic drug or alcohol abuse, their parental rights may be terminated. If the court determines the parent to be "morally depraved," it can also declare them unfit to have parental rights.

To qualify for this type of termination of parental rights in San Diego, the parent's condition must be severe enough to prevent them from adequately caring for their child. Moreover, the child must have been under the juvenile court's care (i.e., outside the custody of the parent) for at least a year before termination proceedings can begin.

Parent’s Mental Incapacity or Mental Illness

If the family court in San Diego determines that a parent is mentally ill, has a developmental disability, or any other condition hampering their ability to provide adequate care and control over their child, it may result in the termination of parental rights.

This action helps to ensure the child's safety and well-being. Proof of incapacity can be established through a court order declaring the parent's mental illness or developmental disability or by expert medical reports indicating the parent is metally ill.

Steps Involved in Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

The termination of parental rights in San Diego involves a specific legal procedure that parents must follow, and the steps involved are as follows:

File the Petition

The first step involves preparing and submitting a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights. The petition must outline the reasons for the termination and specify the particular parental rights to be terminated.

Serve the Parent

Per San Diego law, the petitioning parent must complete the forms and serve them to the other parent, and the person serving the parent must be at least 18 years old. A court hearing will then be scheduled to assess the petition's validity.

The Court Hearing

If the other parent has submitted a contested response contesting the termination of their parental rights, they will have to attend the hearing and present their arguments to the judge. However, if a parent consents to the termination of their parental rights, they need not appear at the hearing. Once the hearing concludes, the judge will either terminate the parental rights or dismiss the case.

The Parental Rights Termination Process When a Child is Abandoned in San Diego

According to the provisions of California Family Code Section 7820, the family law court in San Diego has the authority to terminate a parent's custodial and parental rights if they have abandoned their child. For instance, if the co-parent has exhibited the following conduct, our San Diego custody attorneys will prove that they have abandoned your child, justifying the termination of their parental and custodial rights:

  • Did not provide financial support
  • Had minimal/no contact with your kid for over a year
  • Intended to abandon your child

The other parent will lose custody or visitation rights with your child by terminating the parental rights. At Moshtael Family Law, our family law attorneys in San Diego have in-depth knowledge of child abandonment laws and will leave no stone unturned to get the best possible outcome. We understand the challenges of making legal decisions about your child and assist you through this complex legal process.

California Family Code section 7820 gives you the right to take legal action seeking termination of the parental rights of the co-parent that has abandoned the child. Persons who may file for child abandonment cases in San Diego include:

  • The child’s legal parent
  • The child’s grandparent
  • The child's stepparent
  • The child’s adult sibling
  • Any other adult who has custody of and is responsible for the child’s care due to the absence of the legal parent

Proving Intent of Child Abandonment in San Diego

To win a child abandonment case in San Diego, our seasoned parental rights’ termination lawyers at Moshtael Family Law will prove that one or both legal parents intended to abandon the child. The intent to abandon the child by the legal parent can be proven after carefully examining the relevant circumstances of your case.

In determining the intent to abandon the child, the family court in San Diego will consider the following facts backed by evidence:

  • The legal parent(s) have deserted the child and neglected to provide proper identification for them, such as a birth certificate
  • The legal parent(s) have did not provide financial support for an extended timeframe
  • The legal parent(s) have not communicated with the child for an extended duration

In cases where the legal parent(s) have made inadequate or insincere efforts to provide support or establish communication with the child, the court may find the child abandoned by the parent(s). The family courts in San Diego will be reluctant to allow parents to maintain their parental rights if they do not demonstrate a genuine and significant effort to provide support and establish communication with their child.

If the judge in San Diego has designated a guardian for the child and the legal parent(s) fail to provide financial support or maintain any form of communication with the child, the court may determine that the child has been abandoned.

Juvenile Dependency and the Termination of Parental Rights in San Diego

When parents fail to provide for and/or safeguard their child or subject their child to abuse or neglect, they may face a juvenile dependency action which can result in the termination of their parental rights. Legal parents are usually given multiple chances to fulfill family reunification plans along with support services. Furthermore, if they cannot safely reunite with their child, the courts will terminate their parental as soon as a suitable foster parent is identified.

Voluntarily Relinquishment of Parental Rights in San Diego

Voluntary relinquishment of parental rights occurs when a parent decides to terminate their legal relationship with the child of their own accord. In doing so, the parent forfeits their ability to make legal decisions regarding the child's safety and well-being.

Voluntarily relinquishment covers various aspects of raising the child, including decisions such as selecting a child's religious affiliation, educational institution, or medical treatment. Once voluntary relinquishment of parental rights takes place, the action is irreversible. The process can be finalized only when another individual assumes the role and responsibilities of the parent who is relinquishing their rights.

Voluntarily Relinquishment through Adoption

During adoption proceedings in family court, parents may voluntarily surrender their parental rights if they relinquish their child to an independent adoption agency.

In the context of a stepparent or domestic partner adoption, a parent may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. This enables the stepparent (the custodial parent's new spouse) to adopt the child legally. The non-custodial parent must demonstrate to the San Diego family court that they have willfully abandoned the child.

Get Legal Representation from the Most Trusted Family Law Attorneys in San Diego

Are you worried because the other co-parent has shown no involvement in your child's life, whether through financial support or visitation? Have you been providing care for a child whose legal parents have failed to exercise their parental rights for over six months? If either of these scenarios applies to you, our San Diego child abandoment attorneys at Moshtael Family Law can assist you in pursuing the termination of parental rights of the other parent or the legal guardians of your child.

Our attorneys have successfully assisted in the termination of custody rights for parents who have abandoned their children. From the moment you engage our firm, you can count on our expertise and commitment to prepare strong evidence and fight hard to achieve the best outcome in your case. Our lawyers know the ins and outs of how the legal system works in San Diego and can successfully deal with even the most intricate child abandonment issues.

We are dedicated to providing compassionate and practical advice and the best legal representation to protect your child's rights and ensure their well-being. Call us at 619-639-9898 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation with our legal team today.

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