Here is a Question I recently answered on AVVO:
Parental rights termination on ground of abandonment and criminal charges? I’m looking into pursuing parental rights termination of my son’s father. My son hasn’t seen his father in 6 years. There has never been a court hearing between us, including any support orders. He recently plead guilty to drug related charges and has a warrant out. I wanted to know if this would be a good case for termination?
Abandonment in Arizona is defined as six months of no contact and six months of no support. It does seem that you certainly have a claim for abandonment which would warrant a termination of parental rights. Father has failed to maintain a relationship with the child. Father has failed to financially support his child. Further, his abusive acts, the protective orders, and the criminal convictions and warrants would support a termination request.
However, more is required. Have you remarried? Or are you engaged to a person who you hope and intend to adopt the child?
The Court must consider the best interests of the child when making a final determination of severance. The Court is required to look at the totality of the circumstances when determining whether severance is in the child’s best interest. “The child’s interest in obtaining a loving, stable home, or at the very least avoiding potentially harmful relationships with the parent, deserve at least as much weight at that according to the interest of the unfit parent in maintaining parental rights.”
The Court must make a separate analysis of best interest in regards to how the severance would benefit or harm the child. This almost always requires the existence of a plan for adoption. Among the factors that the Court can consider regarding best interests are: (1) immediate availability of adoption placement; (2) whether the existing placement meets the child’s needs; and (3) whether the child is adoptable.
A qualified and experienced family law attorney can of course assist you in considering your options and then getting where you need to be. Most of us offer free, ½ hour consultations, in which your matter can be discussed in detail. That would be a great opportunity to discuss the specifics of your matter and develop a plan. I would encourage you to quickly schedule this free consultation.