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Information of Rights

Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings

A petition to terminate your parental rights to the child or children named in the summons published in the newspaper has been filed against you by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).  A court hearing has been scheduled.  Information about the time and location of the court hearing is set forth in the summons published in the newspaper.

YOU HAVE IMPORTANT LEGAL RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN THIS MATTER AND YOU SHOULD ATTEND THE HEARING.  YOU CAN FIND DIRECTIONS AND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE COURT IN THE COUNTY WHERE THE HEARING WILL BE HELD AT:  http://www.courts.wa.gov/court_dir/?fa=court_dir.county

TO OBTAIN A COPY OF THE TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS PETITION FILED BY DSHS REGARDING YOUR CHILD, CONTACT THE OFFICE OF THE DSHS DIVISION OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES (DCFS) NEAREST TO WHERE YOUR CHILD LIVES.  YOU CAN FIND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR DSHS/DCFS OFFICES AT: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/general/index.asp

In a Termination of parental rights proceeding, you have certain rights as the parent or legal guardian or custodian of the child.  You must take steps before the hearing to protect your rights.  If the court grants the petition, it will result in permanent loss of your parental rights to your child.  Your rights in the proceeding include:

  • You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in the proceeding. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one to represent you if you contact the court and request that a lawyer be appointed for you. A lawyer can look at the files in your case, talk to child protective services and other agencies, tell you about the law, help you understand your rights, and help you at hearings.
  • You have the right to view and get copies of the records DSHS intends to rely upon in the proceeding.  A copy of any records you are legally entitled to will be provided at no expense to you or your attorney in accordance with Washington State law.
  • You have the right to attend all hearings regarding your child, to hear evidence against you and to introduce evidence and be heard on your behalf, to examine witnesses, and to receive a decision based solely on the evidence presented to the judge.   If you do not attend the hearing, the judge will not hear what you have to say.

If the court does appoint an attorney for you, you should maintain regular contact with your attorney or the court may permit your attorney to withdraw from your case.  An attorney cannot effectively represent you if the attorney does not know your position on the issues before the court or cannot get in touch with you.

This information is provided by the Office of the Attorney General as general information about your rights as a parent whose child is the subject of a petition to terminate parental rights filed by DSHS.  The Office of the Attorney General represents DSHS in termination proceedings and is not your attorney and cannot provide legal advice to you in your case or answer any specific questions you may have.  If you do have questions about your legal rights and interests or about the nature and purpose of a termination of parental rights proceeding, you should contact an attorney.  As stated above, if you appear in the termination proceeding and cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you.

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