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Can a Parent in NJ Get Parental Rights Restored if They Lose Them?
Here's everything you need to know about your parental rights in the state of New Jersey.
Losing parental rights is devastating. Whatever the situation that led to your rights being taken away, it’s a painful experience for everyone involved. If you or someone you know are trying to get your parental rights restored, you’re going to need to know what steps you must take. Below, we share everything you need to know about your parental rights in the state of New Jersey.
Your Parental Rights Under New Jersey State Law
All courts—both at the federal and state level—have repeatedly affirmed that parents should be given the right to raise their children as they see fit. This means that the state cannot and shouldn’t interfere unless the parent is found to be harmful to the child. If the child is being harmed (or is at risk of being harmed), then the court has a responsibility to step in and protect the child. This is when the courts, including those in New Jersey, will take a parent’s custodial rights away.
Reasons for Losing Parental Rights
There are two ways to lose your parental rights in New Jersey: voluntarily and Involuntarily. We’re going to focus on involuntarily losing parental rights in this article.
Under New Jersey Revised Statutes §30:4C-15, the state can involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights if a specific set of conditions are met. During the hearing to terminate these rights, the judge will consider the child’s best interests and use that as the guiding principle in their decision. If it isn’t possible to prove that the parent’s rights must be taken away to protect the child, then the parent will retain their parental rights.
The five grounds under which a parent’s rights may be involuntarily terminated are:
- The parent is convicted of any criminal offense concerning the abuse, neglect, or cruel treatment of a child;
- The parent is convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or aggravated manslaughter, assault, or any other crime which could be considered putting the child at risk for injury or death;
- The parent has abandoned their child and the state authorities have been unable to locate the parent;
- The child was previously removed from the home due to a parent’s drug addiction/abuse, psychological issues, or because the child was living in unsanitary conditions and the parent has done nothing to correct this issue within one full year; or
- It’s deemed that the parent has caused harm to the child, or is likely to do so, and a revocation of rights is needed to protect the child.
Obviously, no parent will lose their rights without due process in a family court. There, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) will file their motion to have the parental rights terminated.
The parent will have the right to defend themselves and to have a lawyer represent them in the case. If the DCP&P does take the child into protective custody, the parent will still have a right to be informed of their child’s welfare, and they have a right to visit with the child unless doing so could place the child in danger of being harmed.
If the DCP&P files a complaint against you because of concerns regarding the child’s safety, then it’s imperative that you contact an experienced attorney, specifically one who has handled such claims in the past with a proven track record.
Can Parental Rights Be Restored in New Jersey?
Something that many parents don’t understand is that parental rights, once terminated, cannot be restored. If you give up your rights voluntarily or lose your rights involuntarily from a court action, the matter is considered settled and cannot be revisited. This also goes for surrendering a child for adoption. Such a decision should never be entered lightly.
If you were falsely charged with neglect or abuse and have lost your parental rights as a result, then you must seek the advice of an experienced attorney to handle your case. Parental rights cases can involve multiple agencies and become extremely complex. Reaching out to an attorney at Smedley Law Group early in the process ensures you have the best chance of getting your rights protected and being advocated for throughout the proceedings.
Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney to Fight for Your Rights
Taking away a parent’s rights to their children is a serious matter, and the New Jersey courts give it the appropriate weight. Because of this, there’s almost no chance of rescinding the order once it’s been made. So it’s important to protect yourself and your rights if you’re being falsely accused or misrepresented because once those rights are taken away, it’s very difficult to get them back.
Contact the Knowledgeable Family Law Attorneys at Smedley Law Group in Woodbury, NJ Today
If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you’ll also most likely be dealing with another matter like child custody, child support, or division of assets, so you’ll need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Smedley Law Group represent clients throughout the state, including West Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Runnemede, and Westville. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 251-0800 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 750 Cooper Street, Woodbury, NJ 08096.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.