Terminating Parental Rights

by | Jun 6, 2022 | Family Law | 0 comments

If you are a parent, you are given certain rights and responsibilities when your child is born. 

What are Parental Rights?

These rights include the ability to make decisions regarding your child’s education, health, religion, and moral upbringing. Parental rights also include the right to enter a contract on your child’s behalf and the right to pass property to your child through gifts or inheritance.

Termination/Relinquishment of Paternal Rights

While parental rights are automatically granted, they can be taken away by a court. When this happens, it is called termination of parental rights. This essentially means that the legal parent-child relationship is terminated, thereby severing all legal ties. A parent can willingly terminate their rights in certain circumstances, or a court can take them away when a parent refuses or is unable to meet their parental responsibilities.

  1. Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights

If both biological parents wish to place their child up for adoption, they may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. To do so, North Dakota Century Code § 14-15-19(2), requires both parents to sign away their rights in writing to the agency taking custody of the child or in the presence and with approval of a judge.

It’s important to add that if a parent relinquishes their rights, a summons and/or copy of the adoption petition does not need to be served on them. Furthermore, they have no grounds to object to a proposed adoption nor is their consent needed.

  1. Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Under North Dakota law, a district court judge can terminate the parental rights of a biological parent if one of the following conditions is met:

  1. The parent has abandoned the child;
  2. The child is subjected to aggravated circumstances*;
  3. The child is deprived and the Court finds:
    1. The conditions/causes of the deprivation are likely to be continued or will not be remedied and that the child is suffering or will suffer; or
    2. The child has been in foster care or in the care of an agency for at least 450 out of the past 660 nights.
  4. The written consent of a parent acknowledged before the Court has been given; or
  5. The parent has pled guilty or nolo contendere or has been found guilty of engaging in a sexual act, the sexual act led to the birth of the parent’s child, and the termination of the parental rights is in the best interests of the child. 

* Aggravated circumstances include the following:

  1. Abandons, tortures, chronically abuses, or sexually abuses a child;
  2. Fails to make substantial, meaningful efforts to secure treatment for their addiction, mental illness behavior disorder, or other conditions for one year or one-half of the child’s lifetime;
  3. Engages in a sexual offense in which the child is the victim or intended victim; or
  4. Commits a certain crime (ex. Murder, manslaughter, reckless homicide, and the victim is another child of the parent).

Can Parental Rights be Reinstated?

Only 22 states currently have legislation in place allowing for reinstatement of parental rights after termination. North Dakota is not one of them. If you are contemplating termination, make sure that you understand that there is no turning back after it’s done. 


It may be in your best interests to have an experienced family law attorney to answer your questions and guide you through the process if you are considering terminating your parental rights.

Contact our specialized family law attorneys at Rosenquist Law Office at (701) 775-0654 or email us at lawinfo@rosenquistlawoffice.com to schedule your free consultation.

*The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as so.

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