How Parental Rights Terminations Work

Termination of parental rights in New Mexico is very serious, whether the court is taking the rights away or a person is giving them up on their own. In a parent-child relationship, biological parents have an inherent set of responsibilities and rights regarding those kids. If these responsibilities aren’t being upheld, the court could terminate parental rights if it’s fully in the children’s best interests. A parent may also give these rights up on their own, which means they also lose the right to see the child or have a say in their upbringing.
If you may be at risk of parental right termination or are considering giving up your rights or terminating those of the other parent, it’s important you know as much as you can about them first.

Parental Rights Overview

In New Mexico, parents automatically receive rights regarding their children. These include the right to have a relationship with their children, the right to see them and the ability to have a say in how they are raised and to make major decisions for them. These rights start as soon as the child exists and last until the child turns 18, unless they are terminated.

Consequences of Rights Termination

When a parent’s rights are terminated, they no longer have any obligations or rights to the child legally. This means they have no say in how the child is raised, no right to contact or see them, and none of the responsibilities associated with having children.
When are rights terminated?
A parent can give up rights or the court may terminate them if they believe the parent is a danger to the child. The circumstances below are examples of situations that can end in a parental rights termination.
•       Abandonment: The parent failed to communicate with the child for a long period of time.
•       Mental disability or illness: If a parent becomes unable to care for their child due to a mental illness or disability, they may lose their rights.
•       Abuse: A parent can have their rights terminated if they neglected or abused the child in any way at any time.
•       Substance dependency: A parent who has been incapacitated due to extreme substance abuse can lose their rights.
A court will only decide to terminate parental rights when it’s the best move for the child. In this type of case, a person—such as the child’s other parent, a relative, a caregiver or the state, if the child is involved with child protective services—petitions the court to have the rights terminated.
After the petition has been filed, there is usually a court case in which it is decided whether the rights will be terminated or remain with the parent.
It’s important to note that a parent can also decide to give up their rights on their own, but this still requires the approval of a judge and the other parent (if they are involved). Someone may give up their rights to make the child eligible for an adoption or because they know they are not able to care for the child. In some cases, a parent gives up parental rights to the state to secure special care the child needs that they can’t provide.

Termination and Child Support

A parental rights termination does not end that parent’s responsibility to pay child support. However, it is rare for a parent who’s rights have been terminated to be made to provide child support.
Since parental rights termination is a very serious matter, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney if you are going to be or are involved in such a case.