How to Relinquish Parental Rights in Maricopa County, AZ
By Beverly Bird
Updated January 08, 2020
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Voluntarily relinquishing parental rights can be a complicated and tricky process. The Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County proclaims in all capital letters on its website that “a parent cannot ask the court to terminate his or her own parental rights.” That said, it is possible for a parent to relinquish his or her parental rights.
The difference lies in the details. A parent can’t say, “I don’t want to be a parent” and walk away, but they can effectively say, “I’ll let this other person be the parent instead.” Termination of parental rights erases all obligations, duties and privileges a parent has to their child… but the child often still has some rights.
Asking the Court to Terminate Parental Rights
The Superior Court in Maricopa County makes it clear that only individuals who have “a legitimate interest in the welfare” of a child can ask the court to terminate that child’s parent’s rights. Additionally, the parent must have “neglected, abused or abandoned” the child or be “unable to fulfill the responsibilities of parenting due to mental illness, lack of mental capacity, or chronic drug or alcohol abuse.” The court must find that the situation is not likely to change any time soon.
A parent can’t petition the court asking that a judge declare them to have met the above terms. Petitions for termination of parental rights are typically initiated by Arizona Child Protective Services, foster parents or relatives.
Voluntarily Relinquishing Rights
An Arizona parent can voluntarily transfer their rights to someone else, such as a child welfare agency or to someone who wants to adopt the child. This can include adoption by a stepparent or another close relative. A child can be adopted without parental consent when that parent has relinquished his or her rights.
Paperwork to Give Up Parental Rights
A parent who wants to relinquish their rights can create a consent form or ask an attorney to do so. The form must include their name, address and date of birth, and it must state that their relationship to the child is that of parent. The child’s name, date of birth and address must also be included. The consent form should then identify the individual or individuals who are assuming parental rights for the child.
The form must include several additional statements:
- The parent understands the legal implications of what they’re doing, and
- The transfer of rights is irrevocable.
In legal terms, this indicates “informed consent.” The form should also confirm that the relinquishing parent hasn’t received any compensation for giving up their rights.
The parent’s signature on the consent form must be notarized, and the form should be filed with the Maricopa County Juvenile Court, provided that the parent lives in Maricopa County. Otherwise, it would be filed in the county in which they reside. The form should be accompanied by a motion or petition for termination.
The Court Hearing
The court might require a hearing after the consent has been filed, and all parties to the transfer of rights must attend. The court will always decide the issue based upon what the judge believes to be in the best interests of the child. An official court order that terminates the rights will be issued if the judge approves the transfer of rights.
It Doesn’t Affect Support or Inheritance Rights
Relinquishing parental rights does not terminate a parent’s obligation to pay child support, at least until the child is officially and legally adopted by another parent or parents.
Neither does it terminate a child’s right to inherit from the parent unless and until the child is adopted.
A notary public will require valid photo identification.
- Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County: Severance to Permanently Terminate Parental Rights
- Hernandez Family Law: Termination of Parental Rights
- The Sampair Group: Termination of Parental Rights
- Moshier Family Law: Terminating Parental Rights in Arizona
- Jackson White Attorneys at Law: How to Sign Over Parental Rights to a Family Member
- A notary public will require valid photo identification.
- The consent is invalid if given with 72 hours of birth.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.