Reinstatement vs Reunification of Parental Rights

Reinstatement vs Reunification

Are you caught up in a messy divorce?

Termination of parental rights is something that all parents fear. However, in some cases, it gives the child better protection and a chance at a better life.

Having parental rights allows a parent to make decisions and take actions on behalf of the child. When you fail to do your obligations, one can demand to strip off your parental rights. However, through reinstatement and reunification, you can get back child custody.

Do you want to know their differences? Read on to learn more about gaining back parental rights.

Reinstatement of Parental Rights

If the court terminates your parental rights, your legal relationship with your child ends. This means that you no longer have responsibilities, visitation rights, and custody. You can only maintain a relationship with the child if the foster care or the adopting family allows it.

However, there’s a proceeding that enables you to get custody back, and that’s through the reinstatement of parental rights. It’s a petition allowing a guardian to get permanency for children in foster care. You can ask for reinstatement if they fail to get a permanent placement for your child.

States Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Every state in the US established laws supporting the termination of parental rights. However, only 22 allow the reinstatement of parental rights after termination. Further, the conditions can differ per state.

Which states allow reinstatement of parental rights? California, New York, and Washington are some that provide statutes for reinstatement.

Among the 22 states, 13 allow filing for reinstatement if the child didn’t get a permanent placement within a period.

In 10 states, reinstatement applies to older children. They created the statute for those aging out of the foster care system. Further, it’s possible if the child wants to fix ties with their family.

How Does the Process of Reinstatement Work?

Getting reinstatement for parental rights won’t be easy, and it’s a long process. Continue reading to find out the procedures practiced in this legal process.

1. Notification

Most states provide counsel to children upon the termination of parental rights. They can represent the child in the legal proceeding. Further, the representative must notify the child about the petition filing.

The supervising agency can inform all parties involved about the reinstatement, too.

2. Hearing

When one of the parties files for reinstatement, a hearing is set to discuss permanency. Parents must prove that they are fit to achieve permanent custody of their child. The child must prove that reinstating parental rights serves their best interests, too.

Further, the supervising agency must notify other interested parties before the hearing. The adopting parents, relatives, or guardian has the right to know as it can affect their interest. Thus, proper notice is a must.

3. Considerations

Reinstatement of parental rights is achievable when you have enough evidence for it. The court can demand a merits hearing after knowing that reinstatement serves the child’s best interest. Take it as a chance to present your arguments proving that you can provide a better home for your child.

If a child filed the petition, their counsel must present proof that the parent improved. They must convince the court that the concerned parent can care for their child.

4. Achieving Permanency

Before the court gives a ruling, the child can live with the parent for a few months as a trial period. It serves as a test to see if the parent can fulfill their obligations and provide a better home. Thus, if the court finds out you fail to meet the conditions, they will dismiss the reinstatement.

However, you can achieve reinstatement of parental rights if the placement is successful. Once enforced, you gain the power and responsibilities of a parent.

Reunification of Parental Rights

In the reunification process, the termination of parental rights doesn’t apply. Separating children from their families results in adverse effects on their health. Reunification is the common goal when a DCF Investigation Attorney finds reasons to demand temporary separation.

In the separation period, the child stays with a relative or in foster care. This gives the concerned parents time to deal with their issues. The reunification process begins once the parent shows improvement by addressing their problems.

How Does the Process of Reunification Work?

Reunification allows parents to keep their parental rights, but how does it work? Here are the steps involved in reunification.

1. Case Planning

When planning, a social worker assesses the case to develop a method. They determine necessary actions and decisions to provide security for the child. Through this, the social worker can devise services to meet the needs of the child and their parent.

2. Court Report and Hearing

A court hearing is necessary for the reunification process, too.

For reunification, the court orders a case report and hearing every six months. However, trials can occur every three months to track the family’s progress. During the 6-month hearing, the court evaluates the improvement based on the case plan.

3. Following a Routine

As the parent strives to improve, the foster care shows support in different ways. Some strategies used to strengthen bonds are family engagement, regular visits, and parental training.

A gradual change in routine is possible when the parent shows improvement. For instance, their child can spend more time with them. The reunification process needs family-centered services to support a caring environment.

4. Dependency Dismissal

You must complete the case plan if you want dependency dismissal for your child. You can achieve this at the 6, 12, or 18 months of hearing, depending on how fast you can finish the case plan. 

Getting Back Your Parental Rights

Now you know the difference between reinstatement and reunification of parental rights. There are different grounds resulting in the termination of parental rights. To gain back parental rights, you must prove that you can provide a better home for your child.

Seek legal advice when your custody is at risk of termination. Want to learn more about the legal processes of divorce and child custody? Check out our other blog posts for more!