Termination is involuntary—the Courts take awaysomeone’s parental rights despite that person’s objection. However the reasoning the Courts use is very similar. You can see how the distinction disintegrates in reality. This is because whether termination o r relinquishment, the Courts look for only two circumstances whereupon parental rights can be divested: abuse and neglect cases and private adoption.
The first instance is typically handled by the Department of Child Youth and Families. For instance, CYFD receives a complaint about a parent and investigates and further determines there’s adequate evidence of abuse and/or neglect to justify petitioning the Courts for termination of parental rights. In the second instance, termination procedures can be initiated when a child is in the process of being adopted. Below is a portion of the law outlining the procedure. You will note that it is geared for either the CYFD track or private adoption. In essence, the following provides what is required in a petition to terminate parental rights.
Section 32A-5-16 Termination procedures
A. A proceeding to terminate parental rights may be initiated in connection with or prior to an adoption proceeding. Venue shall be in the court for the county in which the child is physically present or in the county from which the child was placed. The proceeding may be initiated by any of the following:
(1) the department;
(2) an agency; or
(3) any other person having a legitimate interest in the matter, including a petitioner for adoption, the child's guardian, the child's guardian ad litem or attorney in another action,a foster parent, a relative of the child or the child.
B. A petition for termination of parental rights shall be signed and verified by the petitioner, be filed withthe court and set forth:
(1) the date, place of birth and marital status of the child, if known;
(2) the grounds for termination and the facts and circumstances supporting the grounds for termination;
(3) the names and addresses of the person, authorized agency or agency officer to whom custody might be transferred;
(4) the basis for the court'sjurisdiction;
(5) that the petition is incontemplation of adoption;
(6) the relationship or legitimate interest of the applicant to the child; and
(7) whether the child is an Indian child and, if so:
(a) the tribal affiliations of the child's parents;
(b) the specific actions taken by the moving party to notify the parents' tribe and the results of the contacts,including the names, addresses, titles and telephone numbers of the persons contacted. Copies of any correspondence with the Indian tribe shall be attachedas exhibits to the petition; and
(c) what specific efforts were made to comply with the placement preferences set forth in the federal Indian ChildWelfare Act of 1978 or the placement preferences of the appropriate Indiantribes.
C. Notice of the filing of the petition, accompanied by a copy of the petition, shall be served by the petitioner on the parents of the child, the child's guardian, the legal custodian of the child, the person with whom the child is residing, the individuals with whom the child has resided within the past six months and the department. Service shall be in accordance with the Rules of Civil Procedure[1-001 NMRA] for the District Courts for the service of process in a civil action in this state, with the exception that the department may be served by certified mail. The notice shall state specifically that the person served shall file a written response to the petition within twenty days if the person intends to contest the termination. In any case involving an Indian child, notice shall also be served on the child's Indian tribe pursuant to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
D. If the identification or whereabouts of a parent is unknown, the petitioner shall file a motion for anorder granting service by publication or an order stating that service by publication is not required. A motion for an order granting service by publication shall be supported by the affidavit of the petitioner, the agency or the petitioner's attorney detailing the efforts made to locate the parent.Upon being satisfied that reasonable efforts to locate the parent have been made and that information as to the identity or whereabouts of the parent is still insufficient to effect service in accordance with SCRA, Rule 1-004[NMRA], the court shall order service by publication or order that publicationis not required because the parent's consent is not required pursuant to theprovisions of Section 32A-5-19 NMSA 1978.
E. The court shall, upon request,appoint counsel for an indigent parent who is unable to obtain counsel or if,in the court's discretion, appointment of counsel for an indigent parent is required in the interest of justice. Payment for the appointed counsel shall be made by the petitioner pursuant to the rate determined by the supreme court of New Mexico for court-appointed attorneys.
F. The court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child in all contested proceedings for termination of parental rights. If the child is fourteen years of age or older and in the custody of the department, the child's attorney appointed pursuant to the Abuse and Neglect Act [32A-4-1 NMSA 1978] shall represent the child in any proceedings for termination of parental rights under this section.
G. Within thirty days after thefiling of a petition to terminate parental rights, the petitioner shall request a hearing on the petition. The hearing date shall be at least thirty days after service is effected upon the parent of the child or completion of publication.
H. The grounds for any attempted termination shall be proved by clear and convincing evidence. In any proceeding involving an Indian child, the grounds for any attempted termination shall beproved beyond a reasonable doubt and meet the requirements set forth in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
I. If the court terminates parental rights, it shall appoint a custodian for the child. Upon entering an order terminating the parental rights of a parent, the court may commit the child to the custody of the department, the petitioner or an agency willing to accept custody for the purpose of placing the child for adoption. In any termination proceeding involving an Indian child, the court shall, in any termination order, make specific findings that the requirements of the federal Indian ChildWelfare Act of 1978 were met.
J. A judgment of the court terminating parental rights divests the parent of all legal rights. Terminationof parental rights shall not affect the child's right of inheritance through the former parent.
What is important to note is that there must bea step-parent adoption.
Thus, the legal termination of parental rights must follow the procedures outlines in the law above. There are, however, ways of attempting to model an order that achieves a similar end without an adoption or abuse and neglect etc.