Parents have certain basic rights and responsibilities. Both parents have the right to make decisions about their child’s health, education, religion, etc. However, a court can take away these rights when parents are unable or are unwilling to meet their parental responsibilities. A parent may also voluntarily choose to terminate these rights under certain circumstances. Termination of parental rights ends the legal parent-child relationship and severs all legal ties, including the rights and responsibilities between parent and child. It’s important to note that a termination action can sever the rights of one parent without affecting the rights of the other parent.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
In North Dakota, a district court may terminate the parental rights of a parent if:
a. The parent has abandoned the child;
b. The child is subjected to aggravated circumstances;
c. The child is deprived and the court finds:
i. The conditions/causes of the deprivation are likely to be continued or will not be remedied and that the child is suffering or will suffer; or
ii. The child has been in foster care or in the care of an agency for at least 450 out of the past 660 nights;
d. The written consent of a parent acknowledged before the court has been given; or
e. The parent has pled guilty or nolo contendere or has been found guilty of engaging in a sexual act, the sexual act led to the birth of the parent’s child, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interests of the child.
*Aggravated circumstances means a parent:
a. Abandons, tortures, chronically abuses, or sexually abuses a child;
b. Fails to make substantial, meaningful efforts to secure treatment for their addiction, mental illness behavior disorder, or other conditions for one year or one-half of the child’s lifetime;
c. Engages in a sexual offense in which the child is the victim or intended victim; or
d. Commits a certain crime (ex. Murder, manslaughter, reckless homicide, and the victim is another child of the parent).
Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights
Birth parents who wish to place their child for adoption may voluntarily relinquish their rights. North Dakota Century Code §14-15-19(2)(a) requires signed writing by the parent relinquishing the rights to the agency taking custody of the child or in the presence and with the approval of a judge.
The parent who relinquishes their rights is not required to receive a summons or copy of the adoption petition. Additionally, said parent has no legal right to object to the proposed adoption. The adoption can proceed without that parent’s consent.
Reinstatement of Parental Rights
While every state has a statute providing for the termination of parental rights by a court, only 22 states have legislation in place that allows for the reinstatement of parental rights following termination of parental rights. North Dakota is not one of those states.
If you are currently considering relinquishing your parental rights or have questions about it, it may be in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Please contact the Family Law Division at SW&L via the contact form below or by calling 701-297-2890.
The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on the information on this website as legal advice.