OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
The Probate Courts of Connecticut
Probate Court Administrator
186 Newington Road
West Hartford, CT 06110
Compliments of your probate court:
Among the laws within the jurisdiction of
Connecticut Probate Courts are those dealing with
adoptions and the termination of parental rights.
This brochure was designed to explain the basic
aspects of a complex body of laws with which most
people are not familiar. It is not a complete review of the
subject, but a guide to help those with commonly asked
For answers to specific procedural questions, your
local Probate Court would be happy to assist you. For
problems related to substantive matters of a specific
nature, competent professional advice should be sought.
Notes: 1) As used in this booklet, words referring to the male gender may be applied to females, and words referring to the female gender may be applied to males. 2) A number of forms pertaining to the termination of parental rights and adoption procedures are available online at the Judicial Branch’s Web site, www.jud.ct.gov. (Click on “Forms” under “Quick Links.”) Forms are also available at the probate court.
© 2007 Probate Court Administrator
Introductory notes revised 1/2010
What is the law in general?
In order for a child to be adopted, he must be "free" for adoption and "given in adoption" by a legally authorized individual or agency. Unlike some other states, Connecticut does not allow the direct placement of children by private, unregulated adoption agencies or non-relatives. Only certain approved agencies and close relatives, under careful regulation, may offer a child for adoption. When is a child free for adoption?
A minor child (under 18) is free for possible adoption if: (1) there are no living parents or, (2) the rights of both parents have been terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction. A third option, stepparent adoption, is the most commonly used, and it is generally less complicated than the other types of adoption. There are three parties who may offer a child in adoption to the person to whom they are currently married. One is a surviving parent. Under the proper circumstances, two other parties may offer a child in a stepparent adoption: the mother of a child born out of wedlock or the sole guardian of a child. To give an example, suppose that John and Mary are husband and wife, as well as the parents of Bobby, a minor child. John dies, and Mary remarries a man named George. Subject to the approval of the Probate Court, Mary is then free to offer Bobby in adoption to her new husband, George, without having her parental rights terminated. Other types of adoptions are described later in this pamphlet. There are special procedures involved for children born outside the United States. Please consult a licensed child-placing agency for further information.
What effect does divorce have on an adoption procedure?
A child of parents who are divorced is not automatically free for adoption, even when the Superior Court awards exclusive custody to one parent in a divorce action and that parent subsequently remarries. The Probate Court must first properly terminate the rights of the other divorced parent before the child can be given in adoption to the new stepparent.
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS
What is meant by "termination of parental rights"?
That term means the complete severance by Probate Court order of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child and his parent or parents, so that the child is free for adoption. Once terminated, those parental rights can never be restored, unless, under extremely unusual circumstances, the natural parent should subsequently adopt his or her own child. Who can seek the termination of parental rights?
Any of the following parties may petition in the Probate Court district within which the child or the...