There must be grounds for a termination of parental rights. A Petition for Termination of Parental Relationship must show that the termination is in the child's best interests and at least one of the following:

1. A parent has abandoned the child. 2. A parent has neglected or willfully abused the child. 3. A parent has mental illness, mental deficiency or history of chronic abuse of dangerous drugs, controlled substances or alcohol. There must be reasonable grounds to believe that the condition will continue for prolonged and indeterminate period. 4. A parent is convicted of a felony. The felony should prove the unfitness of that parent to have future custody and control of the child, or the sentence should be of such length that the child would be deprived of a normal home for a period of years. 5. The potential father failed to file a paternity action within thirty days of completion of service of notice. 6. The father failed to file a Notice of Claim of Paternity. 7. The parents have relinquished their rights to a child to an agency or have consented to the adoption. 8. The child is being cared for in an out of home placement under the supervision of the juvenile court. 9. The identity of the parent is unknown following three months of diligent efforts to identify and locate the parent. 10. The parent has had parental rights to another child terminated within two years for the same cause and cannot currently raise a child.

After the petition has been filed, the Juvenile Court sets an initial hearing to determine whether or not the petition is being contested.

If the Petition is uncontested, the parental rights are terminated. If the Petition is contested, then the Court will hold a Termination Adjudication Hearing. In most instances, the Court appoints a best interest attorney, a Guardian ad Litem, to represent the child's "best interests." At the Termination Adjudication Hearing, the Court determines whether at least one of the grounds for termination has been proven and whether the termination is in the child's best interests.

Department of Child Safety (DCS) and the juvenile court system is a maze. His office has effectively represented hundreds of children and parents to help them navigate through this very difficult and complicated system. Robert has the expertise, the knowledge and the experience to help you deal with DCS and the juvenile court system. He is committed to fight for you. To help you in this most difficult time. Contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, directly by email or by calling 480-860-4321 now for a free initial consultation.


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Those unfamiliar with adoption often perceive it in the stereotypical sense – a couple who, unable to have biological children, adopt a newborn. In fact, adoption takes many forms and together we’ve been lucky enough to participate in hundreds of adoptions of all kinds.

Most recently, an entire family joined forces to adopt a relative’s three children when the relations were no longer willing or able to parent them. Three different members of the immediate family each took one of the children to care for. They all live very close to each other and share the responsibility of raising the children as well as keeping the children physically and emotionally close to one another. These were not infants but teenage and pre-teen children. The adoption of these youngsters by their immediate family afforded them the permanency and stability they desperately needed. When the judge finally granted the adoptions on a sunny morning, one could easily sense this family’s relief and elation. Afterwards, photographs with the judge were a fun sight to witness and the culmination of one family’s arduous journey to keep their family together.

Another recent adoption we participated in involved the adoption of two siblings by a couple who already had four biological children. They wanted to expand their family and felt adoption was a viable option. Once they were certified to adopt, a two-year-old boy and his one-year-old sister were placed with the family by Child Protective Services (CPS). The children were wards of the state and after the biological parents’ rights were severed, they were lucky enough to adopt the siblings. Not even three months later, the couple also adopted an 11-month-old girl through CPS. Open to the possibility of another CPS adoption in the near future, they’re certainly not done yet!

One definition of “adoption” is the “voluntary acceptance of a child of other parents to be the same as ones own child.” Not only have these adoptive parents accepted their new children as their own, they’ve completely and totally embraced them, loving them unconditionally as only a parent can.