Before an adoption can occur, the birth parents' parental rights must be terminated. Common reasons for termination of parental rights (i.e., a severance matter) are abandonment, abuse or neglect, substance abuse, mental illness, or long periods of incarceration. Pursuant to Arizona law, “Any person… that has a legitimate interest in the welfare of a child…may file a petition for termination of the parent-child relationship alleging grounds continued in subsection B of this section.” A.R.S. §8-533(A).
These grounds need to be proven by clear and convincing evidence. A.R.S. §8-537(B). The petitioner must also prove that the termination of parental rights is in the best interests of the child by a preponderance of the evidence. A.R.S. §8-533(B). These are difficult and highly technical cases, and many of the clients that want to terminate parental rights do not know what evidence would be relevant to such a proceeding. Speaking to an attorney experienced in termination proceedings prior to filing a severance petition can save significant time and expense.