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NCJ Number: 134857 Find in a Library
Title: Adoption Need Not Always Be "Waiting in the Wings" Before Parental Rights Can Be Terminated; Considerations and Procedures for Termination
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:12  Dated:(1991)  Pages:47-55
Author(s): C Lombardo
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 9
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Much debate has occurred over the question of whether an adoption must be pending before courts can terminate parental rights. Courts are generally reluctant to terminate parental rights without the possibility of adoption unless it becomes necessary for the best interests of the child.
Abstract: Court reluctance is based primarily on public policy concerns, since it is undisputed that the right of parents to rear their children is one of the highest natural rights. The Joshua M. case recently decided by the California Supreme Court squarely addressed the issue of whether a court has jurisdiction to terminate the noncustodial parent's rights while leaving the custodial parent's rights intact without an adoption "waiting in the wings." Joshua's father left his mother when she was 7 months pregnant and never returned. The mother filed for divorce and received custody of the child. Later, she filed a freedom from parental custody petition. The father consented to the termination of his parental rights. The lower court found the petition allegations to be true but refused to grant the petition to terminate on the grounds that the court lacked authority to sever the parental rights of only one parent when adoption by a substitute parent was not imminent. The California Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed this holding. The appellant's brief argued that the termination of parental rights promoted adoption even if an adoption proceeding was not pending at the time. The interest of the mother was served by the decision; her interest was to have the biological father out of her life. Perhaps the case, however, failed to consider the best interests of the child. The child lost a biological father and a potential source of future support. The case raises the issue of whose rights are more important, the mother's or the child's. 50 footnotes
Main Term(s): Parental rights
Index Term(s): California; Child custody; Legal adoption; Rights of minors
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