Can Child Protective Services Take My Child Away Wihout Notice?
Generally, a parent cannot have custody terminated without being given notice. We suggest you contact a local attorney who can review all the facts and documents invovled. AR laws governs relinquishing parental rights in adoption matters as well as involuntary termination by child services. The deciding factor for the court is the best interests of the child. A parent may also have rights terminated, either by voluntary relinquishment or judicial termination. A judicial termination requires proof that the parent is unfit and/or poses a threat of harm to the child. The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child, or the parent is convicted an a child abuse offense. A termination of parental rights voids any rights and obligations toward the child. The parent will no longer have rights to custody or visitation and will no longer owe a duty of support.
Termination of parental rights will typically end the obligation for child support at that point, but not erase liability for past due support. Often, relinquishment of parental rights will not be allowed if done for the purpose of avoiding child support payments.
Please see the following AR statute:
9-9-220. Relinquishment and termination of parent and child
(a) With the exception of the duty to pay child support, the rights of
a parent with reference to a child, including parental right to control
the child or to withhold consent to an adoption, may be relinquished and
the relationship of parent and child terminated in or prior to an
adoption proceeding as provided in this section. The duty of a parent to
pay child support shall continue until an interlocutory decree of adoption
(b) All rights of a parent with reference to a child, including the
right to receive notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption, may be
relinquished and the relationship of parent and child terminated by a
writing, signed by an adult parent, subject to the court's approval.
If the parent is a minor, the writing shall be signed by a guardian ad
litem who is appointed to appear on behalf of the minor parent for the
purpose of executing such a writing. The signing shall occur in the
presence of a representative of an agency taking custody of the child, or
in the presence of a notary public, whether the agency is within or
without the state, or in the presence and with the approval of a judge of
a court of record of this state or any other state in which the minor was
present at the time it was signed. The relinquishment shall be executed in
the same manner as for a consent to adopt under § 9-9-208.
(1)(A) The relinquishment may be withdrawn within ten (10) calendar
days, or, if a waiver of the ten-day period is elected under §
9-9-220(b)(3), five (5) calendar days after it is signed or the child is
born, whichever is later.
(i) Notice of withdrawal shall be given by filing an affidavit with the
probate division clerk of the circuit court in the county designated by
the writing as the county in which the guardianship petition will be
filed if there is a guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will
be filed, if there is no guardianship. If the ten-day period, or, if a
waiver of the ten-day period is elected under subdivision (b)(3) of this
section, the five-day period ends on a weekend or legal holiday, the
person may file the affidavit the next working day.
(ii) No fee shall be charged for the filing of the affidavit.
(B) The relinquishment shall state that the parent has this right of
withdrawal and shall provide the address of the probate division clerk of
the circuit court in which the guardianship will be filed if there is a
guardianship, or where the petition for adoption will be filed if there
is no guardianship; or
(2) In any other situation, if notice of the adoption proceeding has
been given to the parent and the court finds, after considering the
circumstances of the relinquishment and the continued custody by the
petitioner, that the best interest of the child requires the granting of
(3) The relinquishment shall state that the person may waive the
ten-day period for the withdrawal of relinquishment for an adoption and
to elect to limit the maximum time for the withdrawal of relinquishment
for an adoption to five (5) days.
(c) In addition to any other proceeding provided by law, the
relationship of parent and child may be terminated by a court order
issued under this subchapter on any ground provided by other law for
termination of the relationship, or on the following grounds:
(1) Abandonment as defined in § 9-9-202(7).
(2) Neglect or abuse, when the court finds the causes are irremediable
or will not be remedied by the parent.
(A) If the parents have failed to make reasonable efforts to remedy the
causes and such failure has occurred for twelve (12) months, such failure
shall raise the rebuttable presumption that the causes will not be
(B) If the parents have attempted to remedy the causes but have failed
to do so within twelve (12) months, and the court finds there is no
reasonable likelihood the causes will be remedied by the eighteenth
month, the failures shall raise the rebuttable presumption that the
causes will not be remedied.
(3) That in the case of a parent not having custody of a child, his or
her consent is being unreasonably withheld contrary to the best interest
of the child.
(d) For the purpose of proceeding under this subchapter, a decree
terminating all rights of a parent with reference to a child or the
relationship of parent and child issued by a court of competent
jurisdiction in this or any other state dispenses with the consent to
adoption proceedings of a parent whose rights or parent and child
relationship are terminated by the decree and with any required notice of
an adoption proceeding other than as provided in this section.
(e) A petition for termination of the relationships of parent and child
made in connection with an adoption proceeding may be made by:
(1) Either parent if termination of the relationship is sought with
respect to the other parent;
(2) The petitioner for adoption, the guardian of the person, the legal
custodian of the child, or the individual standing in parental
relationship to the child or the attorney ad litem for the child;
(3) An agency; or
(4) Any other person having a legitimate interest in the matter.
(f)(1) The petition shall be filed and service obtained according to
the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
(2) Before the petition is heard, notice of the hearing and the
opportunity to be heard shall be given the parents of the child, the
guardian of the child, the person having legal custody of the child, a
person appointed to represent any party in this proceeding, and any person
granted rights of care, control, or visitation by a court of competent
(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a
relinquishment of parental rights with respect to a child executed under
this section may be withdrawn by the parent, and a decree of a court
terminating the parent-child relationship under this section may be
vacated by the court upon motion of the parent if the child is not on
placement for adoption and the person having custody of the child consents
in writing to the withdrawal or vacation of the decree.
9-27-332. Disposition — Family in need of services — Generally.
(a) If a family is found to be in need of services, the circuit court may enter an order making any of the following dispositions:
(1)(A) To order family services to rehabilitate the juvenile and his or her family.
(B)(i) If the Department of Human Services is the provider for family services, the family services shall be limited to those services available by the department's community-based providers or contractors, excluding the contractors with the Division of Children and Family Services of the Department of Human Services and services of the department for which the family applies and is determined eligible.
(ii) To prevent removal when the department is the provider for family services, the court shall make written findings outlining how each service is intended to prevent removal;
(2)(A) If it is in the best interest of the juvenile, transfer custody of juvenile family members to another licensed agency responsible for the care of juveniles or to a relative or other individual.
(B) If it is in the best interest of the juvenile and because of acts or omissions by the parent, guardian, or custodian, removal is necessary to protect the juvenile's health and safety, transfer custody to the department.
(C) All juveniles in shelters or awaiting foster care placement who are in the custody of the department are "homeless children and youth" as defined under 42 U.S.C. § 11434a(2), as in effect on February 1, 2005;
(3)(A) Order that the parent, both parents, or the guardian of the juvenile attend a court-ordered parental responsibility training program, if available.
(B) The court may make reasonable orders requiring proof of completion of such a training program within a certain time period and payment of a fee covering the cost of the training program;
(4) Place the juvenile on residential detention with electronic monitoring in the juvenile's home;
(5) Order the juvenile, his or her parent, both parents, or guardian to perform court-approved volunteer service in the community designed to contribute to the rehabilitation of the juvenile or the ability of the parent or guardian to provide proper parental care and supervision of the juvenile, not to exceed one hundred sixty (160) hours;
(6)(A) Place the juvenile on supervision terms, including, but not limited to, requiring the juvenile to attend school or make satisfactory progress toward a general education development certificate, requiring the juvenile to observe a curfew, and prohibiting the juvenile from possessing or using any alcohol or illegal drugs.
(B) The supervision terms shall be in writing.
(C) The supervision terms shall be given to the juvenile and explained to the juvenile and to his or her parent, guardian, or custodian by the juvenile intake or probation officer in a conference immediately following the disposition hearing;
(7)(A) Order a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500) to be paid by the juvenile, a parent, both parents, a guardian, or a custodian when the juvenile exceeds the number of excessive unexcused absences provided in the student attendance policy of the district or the State Board of Workforce Education and Career Opportunities.
(B) The purpose of the penalty set forth in this section is to impress upon the parents, guardians, or persons in loco parentis the importance of school or adult education attendance, and the penalty is not to be used primarily as a source of revenue.
(C)(i) In all cases in which a fine is ordered, the court shall determine the parent's, guardian's, or custodian's ability to pay for the fine.
(ii) In making its determination, the court shall consider the following factors:
(a) The financial ability of the parent, both parents, the guardian, or the custodian to pay for such services;
(b) The past efforts of the parent, both parents, the guardian, or the custodian to correct the conditions that resulted in the need for family services; and
(c) Any other factors that the court deems relevant.
(D) When practicable and appropriate, the court may utilize mandatory attendance to such programs as well as community service requirements in lieu of a fine;
(8) Assess a court cost of no more than thirty-five dollars ($35.00) to be paid by the juvenile, his or her parent, both parents, the guardian, or the custodian; and
(9) Order a juvenile service fee not to exceed twenty dollars ($20.00) a month to be paid by the juvenile, his or her parent, both parents, the guardian, or the custodian.
(b) The court may provide that any violation of its orders shall subject the parent, both parents, the juvenile, custodian, or guardian to contempt sanctions.
9-27-355. Placement of juveniles.
(a) For purposes of this section, "relative" means a person within the fifth degree of kinship by virtue of blood or adoption.
(b)(1)(A) After the Department of Human Services removes a juvenile or the circuit court grants custody of the juvenile to the department, the juvenile shall be placed in a licensed or approved foster home, shelter, or facility or an exempt child welfare agency, as defined at § 9-28-402.
(B) For juveniles placed out of state, the placement shall be approved pursuant to the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, § 9-29-201 et seq.
(2) The court shall not specify a particular provider for placement of any foster child.
(3) When it is in the best interest of each of the juveniles, the department shall attempt to place:
(A) Siblings together while they are in foster care and adoptive placement; and
(B) The infants of a minor mother together in foster care.
(c)(1) A relative of a juvenile placed in the custody of the department shall be given preferential consideration for placement if the relative caregiver meets all relevant child protection standards and it is in the juvenile's best interest to be placed with the relative caregiver.
(2) Placement or custody of a juvenile in the home of a relative or other person shall not relieve the department of its responsibility to actively implement the goal of the case.
(3) If a relative or other person inquires about the placement of a juvenile in his or her home, the department shall discuss the following two (2) options for the placement of the juvenile:
(A) Becoming a department foster home; or
(B) Obtaining legal custody of the juvenile.
(4)(A) The juvenile shall remain in a licensed or approved foster home, shelter, or facility or an exempt child welfare agency as defined at § 9-28-402 until the home is opened as a regular foster home, as a provisional foster home if the person is a relative, or the court grants custody of the juvenile to the relative or person after a written approved home study is presented to the court.
(B) For placement only with a relative:
(i) The juvenile may be placed in the home of a relative on a provisional basis for up to six (6) months pending the relative's home being opened as a regular foster home;
(ii) If the relative opts to have his or her home opened as a provisional foster home, the relative shall not be paid a board payment until the relative meets all of the requirements and his or her home is opened as a regular foster home;
(iii) Until the relative's home is opened as a regular foster home, the relative may apply for and receive benefits for which the relative may be entitled due to the placement of the juvenile in the home, such as benefits under the Transitional Employment Assistance Program, § 20-76-401, and food stamps; and
(iv) If the relative's home is not fully licensed as a foster home after six (6) months of the placement of the juvenile in the home:
(a) The department shall remove the juvenile from the relative's home and close the relative's provisional foster home; or
(b) The court shall remove custody from the department and grant custody of the juvenile to the relative subject to the limitations outlined in subdivision (c)(5) of this section.
(5) If the court grants custody of the juvenile to the relative or other person:
(A)(i) The juvenile shall not be placed back in the custody of the department while remaining in the home of the relative or other person.
(ii) The juvenile shall not be removed from the custody of the relative or other person, placed in the custody of the department, and then remain or be returned to the home of the relative or other person while remaining in the custody of the department;
(B) The relative or other person shall not receive any financial assistance, including board payments, from the department, except for financial assistance for which the relative has applied and for which the relative or other person qualifies pursuant to the program guidelines, such as the Transitional Employment Assistance Program, § 20-76-401, food stamps, Medicaid, and the federal adoption subsidy; and
(C) The department shall not be ordered to pay the equivalent of board payments or adoption subsidies to the relative or other person as reasonable efforts to prevent removal of custody from the relative.
(d)(1) Juveniles who are in the custody of the department shall be allowed trial placements with parents for a period not to exceed sixty (60) days.
(2) At the end of sixty (60) days, the court shall either place custody of the juvenile with the parent, or the department shall return the juvenile to a licensed or approved foster home, shelter, or facility or an exempt child welfare agency as defined in § 9-28-402(12).
(e) When a juvenile leaves the custody of the department and the court grants custody to the parent or another person, the department is no longer legal custodian of the juvenile, even if the juvenile division of circuit court retains jurisdiction.