How to Respond to a Termination of Parental Rights Case
Being served with parental rights termination papers can be scary and stressful. Your emotions might make it hard to figure out what to do. It can be tempting to do absolutely nothing because you are too overwhelmed to deal with it. Or you might think if you do nothing, the other parent will not be able to move forward with the case.
Ignoring the papers will not make the case go away. In fact, if you do not respond to the papers and/or attend the court hearing, the other parent may be able to terminate your rights without your say. This page will explain the steps you need to take to respond to a petition to terminate your rights.
Make sure you understand the basic termination concepts. Visit the Termination of Parental Rights Overview page for more information.
Read the papers the other parent filed. Don’t worry, the judge has not ordered anything yet – these papers just tell you what the other parent is asking for and when the court date is set. You should have received the following:
- Petition to Terminate Rights. Read through this document. You may agree with some, all, or none of the petition. Write down next to each paragraph in the petition whether you agree or disagree with what that paragraph says.
- Notice of Hearing. This tells you when the court date is set for your case. Plan to go to the hearing. The judge will expect to see you at the hearing so you can explain whether you agree or disagree with terminating your rights.
If you are an active military service member, you may be able to ask the court to “stay” the proceedings if your military service prevents you from being able to participate in the case. See the Information For Active Military Members to learn more about this.
If you are unsure what to do, it is always best to talk to a lawyer. Visit Lawyers and Legal Help for information on lawyers and free / low-cost legal help.
To respond to the case, you will need to file an "answer." This tells the judge and the other parent what parts of the petition you agree with and disagree with. For instance, you might agree with paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 of the petition, but disagree with paragraphs 4, 5, 6. Write that in the Answer. This lets the judge and the other parent know what issues will need to be dealt with.
You usually only have 20 days to file an Answer. Be sure to file your answer before this deadline. If you miss the deadline, see if you can file the paperwork late, and be sure to attend the court date listed on the Notice of Hearing. You can still tell the judge your side of the story at that hearing, even if you did not get the Answer filed.
After you fill out the answer, you will need to file it with the family court. The fee to file your response is $223. The fee is payable by cash, money order, or most major credit/debit cards. If you cannot afford the fee, please see Filing Fees and Waivers to find out how to ask the court to waive the fee.
You can file your papers one of three ways:
In Person: Bring your filing fee and the forms to the Family Courts and Services Center. You will be able to file your papers in person at the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m, but you must arrive by 3:40 p.m. to see a Clerk before closing. Be sure to arrive before then.
By Mail: If you cannot come to the court during business hours, you can mail your forms and the filing fee to:
Family Courts and Services Center
Attn: Clerk of Court
601 North Pecos Road
Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Online: You can file the Answer online through the court's e-filing system, Wiznet. There is a fee of $3.50 to upload each document, in addition to the regular filing fee. You must register for an account, you must provide a valid email address, and you must be able to scan and upload your documents.
After you complete the steps on this page, a copy of your answer must be sent to the Petitioner who filed the case against you. The Court does not serve the papers for you. It is up to YOU to make sure the Petitioner gets served after you file these papers.
You must mail the Petitioner a copy of your Answer. You can send it by regular mail. You do not need to send it by certified mail.
If the other person does not have an attorney, send a copy of the answer directly to that person. If the Petitioner does have an attorney, send a copy of the answer to the attorney. You can find the attorney’s name and address on the upper left corner of your spouse’s documents.
After serving the documents, you will need to fill out a Certificate of Service. This form tells the court when, where, and how you served the documents. The Certificate of Service must be filed with the court to show that the Petitioner was properly served.
There should be a court date listed on the "Notice of Hearing" that you were served with. Plan to attend that hearing. You can learn about what will happen at the hearing on the Termination of Parental Rights Hearing page.