How Can a Parent Lose Visitation Rights?

boy sad about father losing visitation rights

If a child’s safety or wellbeing is being threatened by their parent or legal guardian, there is a process that will terminate all visitation rights. This means that not only will they be barred from visiting their child, but they also won’t have a say in how their child is raised.

Essentially, all of the rights and obligations associated with being a parent will be terminated. But how does someone lose visitation rights, and is there anything they can do if their rights are taken away?

Situations that Warrant Termination in California

There are a few ways that someone can have their visitation rights taken away according to California state law

Emergency Court Order

The first situation where a parent could lose visitation or custody rights is if there is an emergency order issued by the court. This usually happens when there is credible evidence that the child is in danger under the care of that parent or guardian and needs to be protected immediately. In this situation, the parent could also be criminally charged with child endangerment or domestic violence. This is a serious offense and can result in jail time.

Evidence of Neglect, Abandonment or Abuse 

If there is a finding by the court that the parent is unfit in some way to care for their child, visitation rights can be terminated. This can be due to abandonment, neglect, or any form of abuse, or if the parent has been convicted of certain crimes, such as substance abuse, rape, murder, or sexual assault. If the parent is found to be unfit to care for their child, they will lose all visitation and custody rights.

Voluntary Relinquishing of Rights

A parent can also voluntarily give up their rights. This is rare, but it typically happens when the parent knows that they are not fit to care for their child and wants to ensure their safety. It can also be done as part of a plea deal in a criminal case.

Court-Amended Rights

​​Instead of being terminated, a guardian’s rights could be amended. This could mean the court requires a neutral third party during visits or changing the location of visits. The court may also order that only supervised visitation take place for a period of time. 

How Do I Request a Termination of Rights?

If you are looking to request that someone’s parental rights be terminated, here are the steps you must take for a judge to consider the request:

  1. File a petition with the court. This can be done by the child’s other parent, a grandparent, or another legal guardian.
  2. State in the petition why you believe that the parent or guardian’s rights should be terminated.
  3. Provide any evidence that you have to support your claims. Evidence could include police reports, hospital records, or witness statements.
  4. Once the petition is filed, the court will set a hearing date where both sides can present their evidence and arguments.
  5.  If the judge believes that there is enough evidence to warrant a termination of rights, they will issue an order stating such.

If you are considering terminating someone’s parental rights, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the process.

Is the Termination Permanent?

In most cases, yes. Once someone’s parental rights have been terminated, they will no longer have any legal obligations or rights to their child, including child support, custody, and visitation.

There are some rare exceptions where the parent can petition the court to have their rights reinstated, but this is typically only done if there has been a change in circumstances—for example, if the parent has completed a drug rehabilitation program or anger management course.

It is important to note that even if the parent’s rights are terminated, the child will still have the right to contact them if they want to. The termination of parental rights does not mean that the parent no longer exists in the child’s life, it just means that they are no longer legally obligated to them.

Monarch Family Law Is Here to Help

If you have questions about visitation rights, custody, or any other family law issue, the experienced attorneys at Monarch Family Law can help. We understand how complex and emotional these issues can be and we will work through all of your concerns to make sure that you’re ready to make the best decision possible for your family.