It is possible to terminate a person’s parental rights. This can be done under Arkansas law if it’s in the best interests of the child.
For example, a stepparent may be interested in adopting a child after getting married to someone who had a child with a previous partner or who previously got divorced. That person’s ex would have to terminate their parental rights first, allowing the stepparent adoption to move forward. This is the only way that the stepparent could officially gain those parental rights.
But it’s also possible, in some cases, to terminate an ex’s rights, even when someone else isn’t going to adopt the child. People sometimes refer to this as a “single-parent adoption.” But it doesn’t refer to someone adopting a new child and expanding their family even though they aren’t married. It just means that they want to be officially recognized as a single parent – and the child’s only legal parent – cutting their ex out of the picture entirely.
When will the court allow this?
This isn’t something that the court does lightly. Parental rights are very important and they have to see strong evidence that this would be necessary. They’re not going to do it just because two people don’t get along and one person wants to cut the other out of their child’s life. There has to be a reason to show why it would genuinely be better for the child if this took place. Some potential examples include:
- The child has been ignored or abandoned.
- There is direct evidence of abuse, including sexual abuse.
- The child has been neglected by that parent and the situation is dangerous or harmful.
- The other parent has severe issues with alcohol or controlled substances.
- The other parent suffers from a mental illness or some other ailment that keeps them from parenting effectively.
- That parent has been convicted on certain charges, such as domestic violence or felony offenses.
A “single-parent adoption” is most likely in cases where the child’s health and well-being are in question, such as when there is physical abuse occurring or when substance abuse issues mean that the living situation is dangerous for the child.
That being said, this whole process can be very complicated. It’s critical that parents who are interested in changing parent rights know about all of the legal steps they need to take.