One of the most sensitive and emotionally fraught areas of family law is the subject of when a parent’s rights to raise their child can be taken away. Parental rights is an issue that both federal and state law take very seriously, and any non-voluntary voiding of a parent’s rights (i.e., loss of parental rights through means other than adoption) requires a trial be held to determine the issue. While Nevada law does allow for parents to lose their legal rights in regards to their children in certain circumstances, the standard for termination of parental rights is high, and only a very specific set of actions is considered grounds for legally ending the bond between parent and child.
When Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?
According to Nevada law, there are several grounds where a court may determine “parental fault,” or that a parent is not living up to his or her duties to their child. These grounds include:
- Child abandonment
- Child neglect
- Unfitness on the part of the parent to care for a child
- A serious risk of injury to the child, whether physical, mental, or emotional, if he or she continues to live with a parent or is returned to that parent’s care
- Failure on the part of a parent to communicate with and support their child, or their inability to prevent neglect, abandonment, parental unfitness, or serious injury from befalling the child
If one or both of the parents meets one or more of these criteria, the court may use them to determine that the parents are not meeting their responsibilities to their child or children.
Termination of Parental Rights
While the above situations are all grounds for the court to consider an application to terminate the rights of a parent, there is a much higher burden of proof that must be met for the court to actually grant such an application. When taking up a parental rights case, the court looks at two factors:
- Would the child’s best interests be best served by terminating the parents’ rights?
- If the court determines that the child’s best interests would be best served by terminating the parents’ rights, does parental fault (neglect, abandonment, etc.) exist that warrants a termination of the rights of the parents?
In other words, it is not enough just to prove that a child’s best interests would be served by removing them from their parents. The court must also determine that the parents have also committed specific acts that can be considered neglect, abandonment, or the cause of serious mental, physical, or emotional injury to the child.
Can Parental Rights Be Reinstated?
If a parent’s rights are terminated, Nevada law does allow for a motion to be filed to reunite a parent and child under certain circumstances. According to the law, the child or their current legal guardian can petition the court to have parental rights reinstated. In these cases, children 14 and older must voluntarily consent to be reunited with the parent or parents whose rights were previously terminated.
For more information on parental rights and Nevada family law, contact us today at 702-565-4435.