Adoption & Termination of Parental Rights
About the Hearing
When the Petitioner files the initial documents to terminate a parent's rights, the court sets a hearing date. You will find this hearing date on the "Notice of Hearing" document.
Plan to attend the hearing. Make sure to arrive early to the courthouse so you have enough time to park, get through security, and get to the courtroom before your case is called.
If you are the Petitioner, make sure you have filed documents proving that the parent was served with all the paperwork. If you do not do this, your hearing may be cancelled!
What Happens At The Hearing?
At the hearing, the judge will ask both of the parties any questions that the judge might have.
- If the the parent the petition is filed against (the "Respondent") is there: The parent will be able to tell the judge whether he or she agrees or disagrees with having parental rights terminated.
- If the Respondent is not there: The judge has to be sure that the parent was properly served with all the legal papers, including notice of the hearing. The judge may not go forward with the hearing if it looks like the other parent was not properly served. If service was done correctly, the judge can make a decision without the Respondent there.
After the judge has heard from everyone, the judge may decide immediately whether to terminate the parent's rights. If the judge needs to hear more before deciding on the termination, the judge may set a trial.
Bring the final Order to Terminate Parental Rights (the form is below) with you to the hearing in case the judge makes a final ruling and is willing to sign the final order in court.
If the Respondent objects to terminating his/her parental rights, the judge will set a trial where the judge can hear from witnesses and examine any other evidence. Follow any instructions given by the judge to prepare for trial. You can learn about trials in general on this page (the page is about divorce trials, but the concepts are generally the same).
A trial to terminate parental rights can be very hard to do on your own; you may want to seriously consider hiring an attorney to represent you. Please visit Lawyers and Legal Help to find out where you may be able to locate an attorney.
If the judge approves the termination of parental rights (at the first hearing or after a trial), you will need to prepare an order for the judge to sign. You can download the form below and give it to the judge to sign.
After the judge signs and files the final Order, you must fill out a Notice of Entry of Order and attach a copy of the Order.
File the Notice of Entry of Order with the court. Be sure to fill out the Certificate of Mailing at the bottom, because you will have to mail a copy of this form to the other party the same day you file it. The date this form gets filed is the date that starts the timelines to appeal.
Make a copy of the Notice of Entry of Order (with the Order attached) mail it to the other party. You can mail it by regular mail.
Once you get your signed order, you will need to contact the vital records department in the state where the child was born to find out how to get the birth certificate changed. If the child was born in Nevada, please see the Nevada Office of Vital Statistics to find out how to get the birth certificate changed.
Vital Records will usually require a certified copy of the termination order, which you can obtain for $3 from the Clerk of Court's Records Department.