Reinstatement of Parental Rights in Connecticut

There is probably nothing more devastating to a parent than not being able to maintain a close relationship with their child. But custody battles are common in family law cases, and protective services may become involved and make recommendations they feel are in the child’s bests interests. 

When the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) becomes involved in your life, your rights as a parent may be in jeopardy. Even if the DCF agent says they are on your side, you’ll want to use extreme caution in your interactions with this agency to protect the rights of you and your children. 

What is Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut?

In most U.S. states, the termination of parental rights means the same thing. The legal relationship between you and your child is completely severed by the court. If the rights of just one parent are terminated, the other parent becomes the minor’s sole legal parent. The child could also be adopted by a stepparent at this point. 

How Your Parental Rights Can Be Terminated in Connecticut

A termination of parental rights is not the same thing as a custody action. Just because one parent has sole physical custody doesn’t mean that the other doesn’t have parental rights and responsibilities. 

It’s important to note that your parental rights can only be terminated through a court order. This is often triggered by a DCF investigation. And the termination can happen by consent or without consent. 

Termination of Parental Rights by Consent

One of the ways your parental rights can be terminated is if you agree to it. Since you are also giving up your responsibility to support your children, the court must also determine that this is in your children’s best interests. This is a permanent solution to what is usually a temporary problem and not something we recommend. 

Termination of Parental Right Without Consent

The other way the state can terminate your parental rights is without your consent. This is more common. The petitioning party must present clear and convincing evidence to prove that the termination is in the child’s best interests. 

The Parental Rights Termination Process

The Petitioner will file a request to terminate your parental rights in the probate court where the petitioner or child resides. If the child is over the age of 12, they must be joined in the petition. The parties having the ability to serve as petitioners include the child’s other parent or guardian, a DCF or another child-care agent, or the relative of a child who has been abandoned or deserted by a parent. 

The probated court will hold a hearing within 30 days of the petition’s filing. If you receive such a petition, it’s not only vital that you file an answer by the deadline but that you also attend the hearing to defend your parental rights. A seasoned lawyer can help you build a strong and convincing case that addresses the Petitioner’s concerns. 

Is Reinstatement of Parental Rights in Connecticut Possible?

In most cases, the termination of parental rights in Connecticut is permanent. Some states have passed legislation allowing the courts to reinstate parental rights if children remain in the foster care system. So far, Connecticut isn’t one of those states. 

However, if the child has not been adopted and the court believes it is in the best interest of the child, it may be possible to get a Motion to Open or Set Aside the judgment or get a petition for a new trial. In general, a motion must be filed within four months of the judgment. The only time a judgment can be opened after four months is when it can be shown that the judgment was obtained in the absence of consent, by fraud, or due to a mutual mistake. 

Speak With a Qualified Connecticut DCF Attorney

The termination of parental rights is a serious legal step that will impact you and your children for many years to come. If this is even a possibility, you need experienced legal counsel advocating for your interests sooner rather than later. 

Time is of the essence with DCF cases. Parents who procrastinate often regret not taking action as soon as DCF enters the scene. At The Christie Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling all types of Connecticut DCF cases. Our knowledgeable and compassionate DCF attorney will fight for your parental rights and the best interests of your children. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. 

Under What Circumstances Can My Parental Rights Be Terminated?

When the Connecticut court orders the termination of parental rights, the legal relationship between you and your child ceases to exist. As you can imagine, this is a serious event that has lifelong consequences. 

In nearly every case, it’s not possible to reinstate parental rights once they’ve been terminated. This isn’t the same as changing child custody or the reunification process, which involves reuniting you and your children after they’ve been removed from the home temporarily. 

Because the termination of parental rights is so serious and final, it’s essential that parents understand why this option might be pursued and the ways they can protect their and their children’s rights when a petition is filed. 

What is the Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut?

When parental rights are terminated, the parent-child relationship legally comes to an end. When this happens, the child is legally able to be placed for adoption. A parent can voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, provided the state agrees their rights and responsibilities should be terminated. This is never a good idea and something you should discuss with a qualified attorney. 

Most parental rights are terminated involuntarily, meaning another party files a petition with the court and has to prove their case. In Connecticut, the only parties who can petition for the termination of parental rights are:

  • Either parent
  • The child’s guardian
  • A childcare or child-placing or similar DCF-approved agency official
  • The selectman of a town with a foundling child
  • A relative of a child whose parent has deserted them

If the child is over the age of 12, they must also be named as a Petitioner. 

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut

For the court to grant a petition terminating parental rights, the Petitioner must be able to prove two things. First, they must demonstrate that the termination will be in the child’s best interests. Second, they must show that one of the following grounds for termination exists:

  • The child has been abandoned by the parent. 
  • There is no ongoing parent-child relationship, and it would be detrimental to the best interests of the child to allow additional time for the establishment or reestablishment of such a bond. 
  • The minor has been refused by acts of parental omission or commission, the guidance, control, or care necessary for their physical, emotional, moral, or educational well-being.
  • In a prior proceeding, the Probate or Superior Court has found that the child has been abused, neglected, or uncared for. 
  • Another child of the parent under the age of seven has been found to be abused, neglected, or uncared for and the parent’s rights were terminated with respect for that child. 
  • The parent was found to have committed sexual assault, which resulted in the conception of the minor. 
  • The parent deliberately killed or conspired to kill another of their children or was found to have intentionally assaulted another of their children, resulting in serious bodily injury. 
  • The parent has failed to rehabilitate themselves after having been found guilty of neglect or failure to care for the child or who failed to take specific steps to facilitate the return of a child who has been in DCF custody for at least 15 months. 

Contesting a Petition for Parental Termination in Connecticut

If someone tries to terminate your parental rights, you can and should contest their efforts. You have the right to mount a defense at the 30-day hearing. Most judges want to keep families united whenever possible. The court will take the following items into consideration when making its determination. 

  • The child’s age.
  • The nature, extent, and timeliness of services offered to the parent(s) by the agency to facilitate reunification efforts.
  • Whether DCF made reasonable efforts at reunification pursuant to child welfare and federal adoption law.
  • Any terms relative to existing court orders involving an agency and the parent(s) and the extent to which the parties have satisfied their requirements under the order.
  • The emotional ties and feelings the child has to their parent(s) or any other person who has had custody, care, and control of the child.
  • The extent to which the parent has been barred from maintaining a meaningful relationship with their child. And…
  • The parents attempt to maintain contact with the child and adjust to the current situation. 

These are complex legal proceedings that should not be entered into without the assistance and guidance of a seasoned attorney. 

Speak With An Experienced Attorney About Defending Your Parental Rights

If your parental rights are in jeopardy, there is no time to waste. After a petition is filed, there are just days to submit an answer and prepare for the mandatory hearing. While the Petitioner must prove their case, your complacency can serve as part of their body of evidence. 

At The Christie Law Firm, our experienced DCF attorney is dedicated to keeping families together and protecting the rights of parents and their children. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation so that we can go over your options. 

What is the Difference Between Reunification and Reinstatement of Parental Rights?

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) has a responsibility to investigate all allegations that it receives of abuse and neglect. When the agency believes that it has cause, it will recommend the removal of a child from the home, which can be stressful for all involved.

After its investigation, DCF can decide to petition the court to have your child temporarily removed from the home. Provide the court agrees, your child might be placed in foster care or with relatives. There is often confusion among parents about the difference between the reunification process and the reinstation of parental rights. Here is what you need to know.

The Reunification Process in Connecticut

The reunification process refers to bringing a parent and their children back together after temporary separation by the courts. As stated above, the child has been temporarily placed with a relative or in foster care, giving the parent time to address the issues that prompted the DCF investigation.

An important distinction is that this situation is meant to be temporary only. You, as the parent, maintain your full parental rights. You also have the ability to visit your children during this period and should do so.

Provided the parent satisfies various contingencies, such as getting counseling or completing substance abuse treatment, the reunification process can likely begin. The court will instruct DCF to complete another in-home interview and visit, and you can receive guidance from your attorney on this process.

Termination of Parental Rights in Connecticut

Unfortunately, the termination of parental rights is exactly what it sounds like: DCF petitions the court to demonstrate why the parent’s legal rights should be permanently terminated. If the court agrees, there will be an order which removes a parent’s rights to the child.

There are several grounds for the termination of parental rights:


Most termination of parental rights cases fall under the umbrella of neglect. A child is usually placed in temporary protective custody due to concerns about safety in the home environment. The parent has a limited amount of time to address the issues that caused the commitment.

If DCF believes that the parent hasn’t addressed the issues or rehabilitated themselves enough to provide a safe environment for the child, they will file a petition to terminate parental rights.


Abuse is another potential grounds to terminate parental rights. This can be for physical, psychological, or sexual abuse of a child.


When a parent is accused of abandoning a child, DCF can file to terminate that parent’s parental rights. Abandonment means that the parent, while having the means, has failed to make provisions for the child’s support or failed to establish or maintain a positive relationship with the child.

Other Grounds

  • Parent has committed murder or assault
  • Parent has been convicted of sexual assault resulting in conception
  • There is no ongoing relationship between the parent and child
  • The parent consents to the termination

Is Reinstatement of Parental Rights Possible?

Every U.S. state has laws providing for the termination of parental rights. But only 22 states have legislation in place allowing for the reinstatement of parental rights following termination. Connecticut is not one of them.

Once a person’s parental rights to a minor have been terminated, they have no further legal responsibilities or rights with respect to the child. For example, the former-parent would no longer have custody or visitation rights or any child support responsibilities. The only way a parent would be able to maintain a relationship with the child is if the foster or adopting families allowed it.

If you live in Connecticut and the termination of your parental rights is a possibility, you have reason to be concerned. This is not something you can get reversed, so it’s important to approach a case like this correctly.

Speak with a Qualified Connecticut DCF Attorney

Reunification and reinstatement of parental rights are two very different processes. Ideally, your family won’t be placed in a position where children are removed from the home by DCF, either temporarily or permanently. As soon as you receive notice that DCF will be involved in your life, your best course of action is to protect your rights by hiring an experienced DCF attorney.

The Christie Law Firm specializes in helping parents and their children who are the subject of a DCF investigation. Our knowledgeable and trusted DCF attorney has over a decade of experience as a DCF social worker. She will give you sound advice and protect your rights during DCF hearings and interviews so that you and your children are treated fairly. Call (860) 461-7494 or contact us online to schedule a confidential initial consultation.