In Re Welfare of H.Q.: The trial court was directed to determine whether the father was competent to voluntarily relinquish his parental rights.
By Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski, family lawyer
In this unusual case, C.Q. is the father of H.Q. The court found that C.Q. had the intellectual capacity of a six to eight-year-old as a result of a head injury he suffered as a child.
C.Q. wanted to relinquish his parental rights and enter into an open adoption with a relative. Everyone seemed to support this plan. However, because C.Q.’s attorney argued that he was not competent to voluntarily relinquish his rights, the court proceeded to trial and involuntarily terminated his parental rights.
It is not clear whether the result would be the same since H.Q. was living with C.Q.’s aunt and that aunt was apparently the intended adoptive parent. Nonetheless, the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the relinquishment of parental rights is a fundamental right protected by due process. The trial court was directed to hold a fact-finding hearing to determine whether C.Q. was competent to voluntarily relinquish. If so, he would then be entitled to enter into an open adoption.
Christina A. Meserve and Charles E. Szurszewski practice family law in Olympia, Washington with the law firm of Connolly Tacon & Meserve.
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