Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights (relinquishment): Releases a father or mother from
all parental responsibilities, including child support. Full instructions & Forms are included.
Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights: Summary of State Laws

Every State, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories have statutes providing for the termination of parent’s
rights. Termination of parent’s rights ends the legal parent-youngster relationship. Once the relationship has been
terminated, the youngster is legally free to be placed for adoption with the objective of securing a more stable,
permanent family environment that can meet the youngster's long-term parenting needs. Birth mothers/fathers who
wish to place their kids for adoption may voluntarily relinquish their rights. When addressing whether parent’s rights
should be terminated involuntarily, most States require that a court:

• Determine a parent to be unfit through one or more grounds for termination of the parental relationship
• Determine whether severing the parent-youngster relationship will be in the youngster’s best interest

The grounds for termination of parent’s rights are intended to capture specific circumstances that make it clear that the
youngster cannot safely be returned home because of risk of harm presented by the parent or the inability of the parent
to provide for the youngster’s basic needs. Some States spell out factors that constitute grounds for termination of
parent’s rights. Other States use general language. The most common statutory grounds for involuntary termination of
parent’s rights include:

• Severe or chronic abuse or neglect
• Abuse or neglect of other kids in the household
• Abandonment
• Long-term mental illness or deficiency of the parent(s)
• Long-term alcohol- or drug-induced incapacity of the parent(s)
• Failure to support or maintain contact with the youngster
• Involuntary termination of rights of the parent to another youngster

Another common ground for termination is a felony conviction of the parent(s) for a crime of violence against the
youngster or another family member, or a conviction for any felony when the term of incarceration is such a length of
time as to have a negative impact on the youngster, and the only available provision of care for the youngster is foster
care.

Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights

The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)2 also requires State agencies to seek termination of the parent-youngster
relationship when:

• A youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• A court has determined:
o A youngster to be an abandoned infant
o That the parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent; aided, abetted,
attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter; or committed a felony assault
that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent

In response to ASFA, many States have adopted limits to the maximum amount of time a youngster can spend in foster
care before termination proceedings must be initiated.

Typically, States have adopted the ASFA standard of 15 out of the most recent 22 months in care. Some States,
however, specify shorter time limits, particularly for very young kids. The laws in most States are consistent with the
other termination grounds required under ASFA.

The above factors become grounds for terminating parent’s rights when reasonable efforts by the State to prevent out-
of-home placement or to achieve reunification of the family after placement have failed to correct the conditions and/or
parental behaviors that led to State intervention.3

Exceptions

Even when there are sufficient grounds for terminating a parent’s parent’s rights, a petition to terminate may not always
be required under some circumstances. These circumstances may include:

• The youngster has been placed under the care of a relative.
• There is a compelling reason to believe that terminating the parent’s rights is not in the best interests of the youngster.
• The parent has not been provided with the services required by the service plan for reunification of the parent with the
youngster.

Standard

The U.S. Supreme Court in Santosky v. Kramer4 set the standard of proof in termination of parent’s rights proceedings
at clear and convincing evidence.

2 ASFA establishes guidelines that States must comply with as a condition for receiving Federal funds.
3 For more detailed information on the reasonable efforts requirement, see the Clearinghouse publication Reasonable
Efforts to Reunify Families (http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/general/legal/statutes/reunify.cfm).
4 455 U.S. § 745 (1982)


Alabama

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 26-18-7

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Use of alcohol or controlled substances
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has tortured, abused, or severely maltreated the youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical injury to the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, substance abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to support the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 26-18-5

A petition will be filed when the youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months unless:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition would not
be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The department has not provided to the family of the youngster, consistent with the time period in the department's
case plan, such services as the department deems necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the youngster's home,
if reasonable efforts are required to be made with respect to the youngster.

Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parent’s rights


Alaska

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 47.10.011; 47.10.080; 47.10.086; 47.10.088

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Use of alcohol or controlled substances
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has subjected the youngster to circumstances that pose a substantial risk of harm, including, but not limited
to, abandonment, torture, chronic mental injury, chronic physical harm, or sexual abuse.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical or mental injury to the youngster.
• When the youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate
the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Homicide of a parent of the youngster or a youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit a homicide of a parent of the youngster or a youngster
o A felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to a youngster
• The youngster has been sexually abused as a result of the parent’s conduct or failure to protect the youngster.
• The parent has willfully failed to provide the youngster with needed medical treatment.
• The youngster has committed an illegal act as a result of pressure, guidance, or approval from the parent.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and conditions that led to the
termination have not been corrected.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 47.10.088

The department shall file a petition for termination of rights when the youngster has been in foster care for at least 15 of
the most recent 22 months, unless:

• The department has documented compelling reasons why termination of rights would not be in the best interests of the
youngster. This may include the youngster being cared for by a relative.
• The department has failed to provide reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent.


American Samoa

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 45.0401

The youngster has been neglected by one or both mothers/fathers, as determined by the court.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Arizona

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 8-846; 8-533

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The identity of the parent is unknown even after diligent efforts to identify and locate the parent.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Chronic abuse of dangerous drugs, alcohol, or controlled substances
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has neglected or willfully abused the youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical or emotional injury to the youngster.
• The youngster has been in out-of-home placement for a total of 9 months, and the parent has refused to participate in
services that could remedy the circumstances that caused the placement.
• The youngster has been in out-of-home placement for a total of 15 months, and the parent has participated in services
but has been unable to remedy the circumstances that caused the placement.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Sexual abuse, sexual assault of a youngster, sexual conduct with a minor, or molestation of a youngster
o Commercial sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, or luring a minor for sexual exploitation
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or manslaughter or any of the crimes listed above
• A putative father has failed to establish paternity or respond to notice.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated within the preceding 2 years, and
conditions that led to the termination have not been corrected.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Arkansas

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 9-27-341

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has neglected or willfully abused the youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical or emotional injury to the youngster.
• The youngster has been out of the parent’s custody for 12 months, and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent
have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o A felony battery or assault that results in serious bodily injury to any youngster
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, which can mean:
o The youngster has been abandoned, chronically abused, subjected to extreme or repeated cruelty, or sexually abused.
o A judge has determined that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification.
o The youngster has been removed from the custody of the parent more than three times in the last 15 months.
• The parent has willfully failed to provide significant material support in accordance with the parent’s means.
• The parent has failed to maintain meaningful contact with the youngster.
• A presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been terminated involuntarily.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


California

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 361; 361.5; 366.26

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental disability
o Extensive, abusive, and chronic use of alcohol or drugs
o Incarceration or institutionalization
• The parent has physically or sexually abused the youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical injury to the youngster.
• The parent has refused reunification services.
• The parent has been convicted of a violent felony, indicating parental unfitness.
• The youngster has been left without any provision for his or her support.
• The parent has failed to visit or contact the youngster for 6 months.
• The whereabouts of the parent have been unknown for 6 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.
• The parent has caused the death of another youngster through abuse or neglect.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to severe or repeated sexual or physical abuse.
• The youngster was conceived as a result of a sexual offense against a youngster.
• The parent willfully abandoned the youngster, and the abandonment itself constituted a serious danger to the
youngster.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Welf. & Inst. Code § 366.26

• The court has found a compelling reason for determining that termination would be detrimental to the youngster.
• The mothers/fathers have maintained regular visitation and contact with the youngster.
• A youngster 12 years of age or older objects to termination of parent’s rights.
• The youngster is living with a relative or foster parent who is unable or unwilling to adopt the youngster because of
exceptional circumstances.
• There would be substantial interference with a youngster’s sibling relationship.


Colorado

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 19-1-115; 19-3-604

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has been found to be unfit due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o A single incident of serious bodily injury or disfigurement to the youngster
o Use of alcohol or controlled substances
o Long-term incarceration
• The parent has caused serious bodily injury or death to a sibling of the youngster due to abuse or neglect.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in grave risk of death or serious physical injury to the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, substance abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed, or the parent has failed to reasonably comply with a
treatment plan.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has neglected the youngster, and is unable or unwilling to provide nurturing and safe parenting.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, unless the prior sibling
termination resulted from a parent delivering the youngster to a firefighter or hospital, pursuant to the provisions of §
19-3-304.5.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 19-3-604

A petition to terminate parent’s rights will be filed when the youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent
22 months, unless:

• The youngster is placed with a relative of the youngster.
• The department has documented in the case plan that such motion is not in the best interests of the youngster.
• Reasonable efforts to reunify the youngster with the parent have not been provided.


Connecticut

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 17a-111a; 17a-111b; 17a-112

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has inflicted sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or severe physical abuse on the youngster, or has engaged in
a pattern of abuse of the youngster.
• The parent is unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts.
• The parent was convicted of a sexual assault that resulted in the conception of a youngster. The court may terminate
the rights of the parent to such youngster at any time after the conviction.
• A court has found that the parent has:
o Killed, through a deliberate, nonaccidental act, a sibling of the youngster
o Requested, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the killing of the youngster or a sibling of the youngster
o Assaulted the youngster or sibling of the youngster, and such assault resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster
• The parent has failed to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern, or responsibility as to the welfare of the
youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 17a-111a

A petition to terminate rights shall be filed when the youngster has been in the custody of the Commissioner of Kids and
Families for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless:

• The youngster has been placed in the care of a relative.
• There is a compelling reason to believe that termination of rights is not in the best interests of the youngster.
• The parent has not been offered the services specified in the permanency plan to reunify the parent with the youngster.


Delaware

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 13, § 1103

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has abandoned a baby in accordance with Tit. 16, § 907A, and failed to manifest an intent to exercise
parent’s rights within 30 days.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental incompetence
o Extended or repeated incarceration
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical injury to the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or life-threatening abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o A felony-level offense against the person, and the victim was the youngster or any other youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting the commission of such offense
o The offense of dealing in kids
o The felony-level offense of endangering kids
• The parent has failed to support the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 13, § 1103

The court shall not terminate a parent’s rights solely because the parent, in good faith, provides for his or her youngster,
in lieu of medical treatment, treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer.


District of Columbia

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 16-2353; 16-2354

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• Drug-related activity continues to exist in the youngster’s home environment after intervention and services have
been provided.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of a youngster sibling or another youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter
o A felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster, a youngster sibling, or another youngster
• The youngster has been subjected to intentional and severe mental abuse.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 16-2354

A petition shall be filed when the youngster has been in court-ordered custody for 15 of the most recent 22 months
unless:

• The youngster is being cared for by an approved kinship caregiver and adoption is not the youngster's permanency
plan.
• There exists a compelling reason for determining that filing such a motion would not be in the best interest of the
youngster.
• The District has not offered or provided to the family of the youngster, consistent with the time period in the case plan,
such services as are necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the youngster's home, if reasonable efforts are
required to be made with respect to the youngster.


Florida

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 39.806

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to extended incarceration or there has been a finding
that the parent is a:
o Violent career criminal
o Habitual violent felony offender
o Sexual predator
• The parent has subjected the youngster to egregious conduct, including abuse, abandonment, or neglect that is flagrant
or outrageous by a normal standard of conduct.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated youngster abuse, as defined in § 827.03, that includes sexual
battery, sexual abuse, or chronic abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 39.806

A petition may be filed when the mothers/fathers have substantially failed to comply with a case plan for 12 months,
unless the failure to comply was due to:

• A lack of financial resources of the parent
• A failure of the department to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family


Georgia

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 15-11-58; 15-11-94

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o A medically verifiable deficiency of his or her physical, mental, or emotional health
o Excessive or chronic use of alcohol or controlled substances
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has physically, mentally, or emotionally neglected the youngster, or there has been past neglect of the
youngster or another youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical injury to the youngster or in the injury or death of a
sibling.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to egregious conduct, or there has been past egregious conduct toward the
youngster or another youngster, of a physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive nature.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or the youngster’s other parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent or the youngster’s other parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to comply with a court order to support the youngster for a period of 12 months or longer.
• The parent has failed to develop and maintain a parental bond with the youngster in a meaningful, supportive manner.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Guam

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 19, § 4303

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to mental illness or mental deficiency.
• The parent has substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected the youngster.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in serious physical injury to the youngster.
• The presumptive parent is not the natural parent of the youngster.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Hawaii

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 571-61; 587-2

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to mental illness or mental deficiency.
• The parent has tortured the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to provide care and support for the youngster for at least 1 year.
• The parent has failed to communicate with the youngster for at least 1 year.
• The parent has voluntarily surrendered care and custody of the youngster to another person for at least 2 years.
• The parent is not the youngster’s natural or adoptive father.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Idaho

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 16-1608; 16-2005

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties, and such inability will continue for a prolonged,
indeterminate period.
• The parent has been incarcerated with no possibility of parole.
• The parent has abused or neglected the youngster.
• The parent has caused the youngster to be conceived as a result of rape, incest, lewd conduct with a minor under 16
years of age, or sexual abuse of a youngster under the age of 16 years.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or the youngster’s other parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent or the youngster’s other parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The presumptive parent is not the natural parent of the youngster.
• The parent has failed to maintain a relationship with the youngster for a period of 1 year.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 16-2005

If the parent has a disability, the parent shall have a right to provide evidence to the court regarding the manner in which
adaptive equipment or supportive services will enable the parent to carry out parenting responsibilities.


Illinois

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights 705 ILCS 405/1-2; 405/2-13.1; 750 ILCS 50/1

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness, mental deficiency, or developmental disability
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• The parent has substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected the youngster.
• The parent has been found, two or more times, to have physically abused any youngster, or to have caused the death of
any youngster by physical youngster abuse.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, or chronic abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• A youngster was born exposed to controlled substances, and a substance-exposed youngster was previously born to
the same mother.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o Aggravated battery or felony domestic battery that has resulted in serious bodily injury to any youngster
o Aggravated criminal sexual assault
• The parent has repeatedly and continuously failed to provide the youngster with adequate food, clothing, and shelter,
although financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster for a period of 12
months.
• A putative father has failed to establish paternity.
• A youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights 705 ILCS 405/2-23; 750 ILCS 50/1

A petition will be filed when the youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months unless the parent
can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is more likely than not that the youngster will be returned to the
parent within 6 months.

A petition to terminate parent’s rights will be filed when there are grounds unless:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The department has documented a compelling reason that filing such petition will not be in the best interests of the
youngster.
• The court has found that the department has failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the youngster and family.


Indiana

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 31-34-21-5.6; 31-35-2-4.5

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Causing a suicide, involuntary manslaughter, rape, criminal deviate conduct, youngster molesting, exploitation, or
incest, and the victim is a youngster of the parent or the parent of the youngster
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or a parent of the youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit any of the above offenses
o Battery, aggravated battery, criminal recklessness, or neglect of a dependent against the youngster or another
youngster of the parent
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 31-35-2-4.5

A petition to terminate parent’s rights may be dismissed if:

• The current case plan has documented a compelling reason that termination is not in the best interests of the
youngster.
• A compelling reason may include the fact that the youngster is being cared for by a relative who is the guardian of the
youngster.
• The county office of family and kids has not provided services to the family as required in the case plan.


Iowa

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 232.102; 232.111; 232.116

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The youngster is a newborn infant who was relinquished in accordance with chapter 232B.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Chronic mental illness
o Severe, chronic substance abuse problems
o A conviction and incarceration for a crime against a youngster and it is unlikely that the parent will be released for a
period of 5 years or longer
o A conviction and incarceration for physically or sexually abusing or neglecting the youngster or any youngster in the
household
• The parent’s conduct or omissions has resulted in the physical or sexual abuse or neglect of the youngster.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Youngster endangerment resulting in the death of the youngster’s sibling
o Three or more acts of youngster endangerment involving the youngster, a sibling, or another youngster in the
household
o Youngster endangerment resulting in serious injury to the youngster, a sibling, or another youngster in the household
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has failed to maintain significant and meaningful contact with the youngster for a period of 6 consecutive
months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and there is evidence that the
parent continues to lack the ability or willingness to respond to services.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 232.111

A petition to terminate parent’s rights is not required when:

• At the option of the department or by order of the court, the youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The department has documented a compelling reason for determining that termination would not be in the best
interests of the youngster. A compelling reason can include evidence that the family may achieve reunification within 6
months.
• The department has not provided services within the timeframes indicated in the case plan.
The court need not terminate parent’s rights when:
• A relative has legal custody of the youngster.
• The youngster is over 10 years of age and objects to the termination.
• There is clear and convincing evidence that termination would be detrimental to the youngster due to closeness of the
parent-youngster relationship.
• It is necessary to place the youngster in a hospital or other facility for care and treatment and the continuation of the
parent-youngster relationship is not preventing a permanent family placement for the youngster.
• The absence of the parent is due to the parent’s admission or commitment to any institution or health facility or due to
active service in the State or Federal armed forces.


Kansas

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 38-1563; 38-1583; 38-1585

• The parent is unfit by reason of conduct or condition.
• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, mental deficiency, or physical disability
o Excessive use of alcohol, narcotics, or dangerous drugs
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony
• There has been an unexplained injury or death of another youngster or stepyoungster of the parent.
• The parent has physically, mentally, or emotionally neglected the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster or another youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited
to, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or chronic, life-threatening neglect.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or the other parent of the youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent or the other parent of the youngster
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to pay a reasonable portion of the cost of substitute care for the youngster when financially able
to do so.
• The parent has failed to assume care of the youngster in the home when able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 38-1583

If, after finding the parent unfit, the court determines a compelling reason why it is not in the best interests of the
youngster to terminate parent’s rights, the court may award permanent guardianship to an individual providing care for
the youngster, a relative, or other person with whom the youngster has a close emotional attachment.


Kentucky

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 600.020; 610.127; 625.090

• The parent has abandoned the youngster for a period of not less than 90 days.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or mental retardation
o Alcohol or other drug abuse
• The parent has inflicted or allowed to be inflicted upon the youngster, by other than accidental means, serious physical
injury.
• The parent has continuously or repeatedly inflicted or allowed to be inflicted upon any youngster physical abuse,
sexual abuse, neglect, or emotional injury, and such injury to the youngster named in the petition is likely to occur if
parent’s rights are not terminated.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including one or more of the following:
o The parent has not had or attempted contact with the youngster for a period of not less than 90 days.
o The parent is incarcerated and will be unavailable to care for the youngster for at least 1 year.
o The parent has sexually abused the youngster and refused available treatment.
o The parent has engaged in abuse of the youngster that required removal from the home two or more times in the past 2
years.
o The parent has caused serious physical injury.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o In a criminal proceeding of having caused or contributed to the death of a youngster as a result of physical abuse,
sexual abuse, or neglect
o Committing a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to provide essential food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or education to the youngster when
financially able to do so.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 625.090

If the parent proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the youngster will not continue to be an abused or
neglected youngster if returned to the parent, the court in its discretion may determine not to terminate parent’s rights.


Louisiana

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Ch. C. art. 672.1; 1015

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has been incarcerated for an extended period of time, and is unwilling or unable to provide care other than
foster care for the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to abuse that is chronic, life threatening, or results in gravely disabling
physical or psychological injury or disfigurement.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to sexual abuse.
• The parent has subjected the youngster or any other youngster in the household to egregious conduct or conditions,
including but not limited to, extreme abuse, cruel and inhuman treatment, or grossly negligent behavior below a
reasonable standard of human decency.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Murder or unjustified intentional killing of the youngster’s other parent
o A felony that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
o Rape, sodomy, aggravated incest, torture, or starvation
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit any of the above crimes
• The parent has failed to provide significant contributions to the care and support of the youngster for any period of 6
consecutive months.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster for any period of 6
consecutive months.
• The parent has committed a felony rape that resulted in the conception of a youngster.
• The parent has relinquished a newborn infant in accordance with the law.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.
Maine

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 22, §§ 4002; 4055

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to a chronic substance abuse problem.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including but not limited to, rape, gross sexual
conduct or assault, sexual abuse, incest, aggravated assault, kidnapping, promotion of prostitution, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or any other treatment that is heinous or abhorrent to society.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes, and the victim was any youngster in the parent’s
household:
o Murder, felony murder, or manslaughter
o Aiding, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or manslaughter
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury
• The parent has failed to take responsibility for the youngster within a reasonable period of time.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 22, § 4055

The court shall consider, but is not bound by, the wishes of a youngster 12 years of age or older in making an order
under this section.


Maryland

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Fam. Law §§ 5-313; 5-525.1

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has a disability that renders the parent consistently unable to care for the youngster for long periods of
time.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or chronic and life-threatening neglect.
• The youngster was born exposed to cocaine, heroin, or a derivative thereof.
• The parent has committed acts of abuse or neglect toward any youngster in the family.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o A crime of violence, as defined in § 14-101 of the Criminal Law article, against the youngster, another youngster of the
family, or any person who resides in the household
o Aiding, abetting, conspiring, or soliciting to a crime described above
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Massachusetts

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Ch. 119, §§ 26, 29C; Ch. 210, § 3

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or deficiency
o Alcohol or drug addiction
o Incarceration for extended period of time
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including but not limited to, sexual abuse or
exploitation, or severe or repetitive conduct of a physically or emotionally abusive nature.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to support the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the immediately preceding 22 months.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Ch. 119, § 26

The department need not file such a petition to terminate parent’s rights if:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that such a petition would not be
in the best interests of the youngster.
• The family of the youngster has not been provided, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as
the department deems necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the youngster's home if reasonable efforts as set
forth in § 29C are required to be made with respect to the youngster.


Michigan

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 712A.19a; 712A.19b

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is incarcerated for a period exceeding 2 years, and has not provided for the youngster’s care.
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in physical injury or sexual abuse to the youngster or a sibling of the
youngster.
• The parent has abused the youngster or a sibling of the youngster, and the abuse included one or more of the following:
o Criminal sexual conduct involving penetration, attempted penetration, or assault with intent to penetrate
o Battering, torture, or other severe physical abuse
o Loss or serious impairment of an organ or limb
o Life-threatening injury
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has failed to support the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and attempts to rehabilitate the
mothers/fathers have been unsuccessful.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 712A.19b

If the court finds that there are grounds for termination of parent’s rights, the court shall order termination of parent’s
rights and order that additional efforts for reunification of the youngster with the parent not be made, unless the court
finds that termination of parent’s rights to the youngster is clearly not in the youngster's best interests.


Minnesota

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 260.012; 260C.301

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has been diagnosed as chemically dependent, and has failed to successfully complete a treatment plan.
• The parent has substantially, continuously, and repeatedly neglected the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to egregious harm of a nature, duration, or chronicity that indicates a lack of
regard for the youngster’s well-being.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o An assault with a deadly weapon with the infliction of substantial bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster
of the parent
o Assault with a past pattern of youngster abuse
o Assault with a victim under the age of 4 years
• The parent has failed to provide necessary support to the youngster when ordered to do so and financially able to do
so.
• The parent has failed to maintain contact with the youngster for 6 months and has not demonstrated an interest in the
youngster.
• A putative father has failed to register with the fathers’ adoption registry.
• The youngster has been in foster placement for a cumulative period of 12 months within the preceding 22 months, and
the parent has failed to correct the conditions that led to the placement.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 260C.312

The court may elect not to terminate parent’s rights if it finds that the petition is not proven or that termination is not in
the youngster’s best interests.


Mississippi

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 43-21-603; 93-15-103

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Severe mental deficiencies, mental illness, or physical incapacitation
o Alcohol or drug addiction
• The parent has been responsible for a series of abusive incidents concerning one or more kids.
• There is an extreme and deep-seated antipathy by the youngster toward the parent that was caused at least in part by
the parent’s serious neglect, abuse, or prolonged and unreasonable absence.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, substance abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses against any youngster:
o Rape, sexual battery, exploitation, or touching of a youngster for lustful purposes
o Felonious abuse or battery of a youngster
o Carnal knowledge of a stepyoungster, an adopted youngster, or the youngster of a cohabiting partner
• The parent has failed to exercise reasonable available visitation with the youngster.
• The parent has made no contact with a youngster under the age of 3 years for 6 months or a youngster 3 years of age or
older for a period of 1 year.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 93-15-103

Legal custody and guardianship by persons other than the parent, as well as other permanent alternatives that end the
supervision by the Department of Human Services, should be considered as alternatives to the termination of parent’s
rights, and these alternatives should be selected when, in the best interest of the youngster, parental contacts are
desirable and it is possible to secure such placement without termination of parent’s rights.


Missouri

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 211.183; 211.447

• The youngster is an abandoned infant.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o A mental condition
o Chemical dependency
o A conviction of a felony that would deprive the youngster of a stable home for a period of years
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has subjected the youngster to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm.
• The parent has subjected any youngster in the family to a severe act or recurrent acts of physical, emotional, or sexual
abuse, including an act of incest.
• The youngster was conceived and born as a result of an act of forcible rape.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to contribute to the cost of care and maintenance of the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation or other contact with the youngster.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated within the immediately
preceding 3 years.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 211.447

Even when grounds exist for termination of parent’s rights, the juvenile officer or the division is not required to file a
petition to terminate the parent’s rights of the youngster's parent or mothers/fathers if:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• There exists a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interest of the
youngster, as documented in the permanency plan.
• The family of the youngster has not been provided the services required for making reasonable efforts to preserve the
family.


Montana

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 41-3-423; 41-3-609

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o A history of violent behavior by the parent
o Use of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic or dangerous drug
o A judicially ordered long-term confinement of the parent, including incarceration of more than 1 year
• The parent’s conduct or neglect has resulted in the death or serious physical injury of a youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or chronic, severe neglect.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Deliberate homicide of a youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit deliberate homicide of a youngster
o Aggravated assault against a youngster
o Neglect of a youngster that resulted in serious bodily injury
• The parent is convicted of a felony in which sexual intercourse occurred, and as a result, the youngster was born.
• A putative father has failed to contribute to the support of the youngster for an aggregate period of 1 year, to establish
a substantial relationship with the youngster, or to register with the putative father registry.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and the circumstances related
to the termination are relevant to the parent’s ability to adequately care for the youngster at issue.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Nebraska

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 43-292

• The parent has abandoned the youngster for 6 months or more.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to mental illness or mental deficiency, and such
condition will likely continue for a prolonged, indeterminate period.
• The parent has substantially and continuously or repeatedly neglected the youngster.
• The parent is unfit by reason of debauchery, habitual use of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs, or repeated lewd and
lascivious behavior.
• The parent has inflicted, by other than accidental means, serious physical injury upon the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another minor youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed to provide necessary care and subsistence for the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The youngster has been in out-of-home placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 43-292.02

A petition shall not be filed to terminate the parent’s rights of the youngster's mothers/fathers if the basis for the
petition is that:

• The parent is financially unable to provide health care for the youngster.
• The parent is incarcerated.
The petition is not required to be filed if:
• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The Department of Health and Human Services has documented in the case plan or permanency plan a compelling
reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The family of the youngster has not had a reasonable opportunity to avail themselves of the services deemed
necessary in the
case plan or permanency plan approved by the court if reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family are required
by law.


Nevada

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 128.105; 128.106; 432B.393

• The parent has abandoned the youngster for 60 days or more.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Excessive use of intoxicating liquors, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs
o A conviction for a felony, if the facts of the crime are of such a nature to indicate the unfitness of the parent
Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parent’s rights http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov


New Hampshire

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 169-C:24-a; 170-C:5

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or mental deficiency
o Incarceration for a felony offense
• The parent knowingly caused or permitted another to cause severe sexual, physical, mental, or emotional abuse of the
youngster.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or the youngster’s other parent
o Attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit murder or manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or the
youngster’s other parent
o A felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster, another youngster of the parent, or the
youngster’s other parent
• The parent has substantially and continuously neglected to provide the youngster with necessary subsistence,
education, and other necessary care when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular communication with the youngster.
• The youngster has been in out-of-home placement for 12 of the most recent 22 months.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 169-C:24-a

The State may not be required to file a petition for termination of parent’s rights if one or more of the following
conditions exist:

• The youngster is being appropriately cared for by a relative.
• A State agency has documented in the case file a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition for
termination of parent’s rights would not be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The State has not provided to the family of the youngster such services and reasonable efforts as the State deems
necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the youngster's home.


New Jersey

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 30:4C-11.2; 30:4C-15

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances of abuse, neglect, cruelty, or abandonment.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit the above murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of
the youngster or another youngster of the parent
o Committing or attempting to commit an assault or similarly serious criminal act that resulted, or could have resulted,
in the death or significant bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 30:4C-15; 30:4C-15.3

A petition shall be filed as soon as any one of the circumstances listed above is established, but no later than when the
youngster has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless the division establishes an exception to the
requirement to seek termination of parent’s rights.

The Division of Youth and Family Services shall not be required to file a petition seeking the termination of parent’s
rights if:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative and a permanent plan for the youngster can be achieved without
termination of parent’s rights.
• The division has documented in the case plan, which shall be available for court review, a compelling reason for
determining that filing the petition would not be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The division is required to provide reasonable efforts to reunify the family, but has not provided to the family of the
youngster, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as the division deems necessary for the safe
return of the youngster to his home.


New Mexico

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 32A-4-22; 32A-4-28

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including those circumstances in which the
parent has:
o Attempted, conspired to cause, or caused great bodily harm to the youngster or great bodily harm or death to the
youngster's sibling
o Attempted, conspired to cause, or caused great bodily harm or death to another parent, guardian, or custodian of the
youngster
o Attempted, conspired to subject, or has subjected the youngster to torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse
• The youngster has been abused or neglected, and the conditions and causes of the abuse or neglect are unlikely to
change in the near future.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed or would be futile.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 32A-4-29

The department shall file a motion to terminate parent’s rights when a youngster has been in the custody of the
department for not less than 15 of the previous 22 months, unless:

• A parent has made substantial progress toward eliminating the problem that caused the youngster’s placement in foster
care, it is likely that the youngster will be able to safely return to the parent’s home within 3 months, and the youngster’s
return to the parent’s home will be in the youngster’s best interests.
• The youngster has a close and positive relationship with a parent, and a permanent plan that does not include
termination of parent’s rights will provide the most secure and appropriate placement for the youngster.
• The youngster is 13 years of age or older, is firmly opposed to termination of parent’s rights, and is likely to disrupt an
attempt to place him with an adoptive family.
• A parent is terminally ill, but in remission, and does not want his parent’s rights to be terminated; provided that the
parent has designated a guardian for his youngster.
• The youngster is not capable of functioning if placed in a family setting. In such a case, the court shall reevaluate the
status of the youngster every 90 days unless there is a final court determination that the youngster cannot be placed in a
family setting.
• Grounds do not exist for termination of parent’s rights.
• The youngster is an unaccompanied, refugee minor, and the situation regarding the youngster involves international
legal issues or compelling foreign policy issues.
• Adoption is not an appropriate plan for the youngster.


New York

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Soc. Serv. Law §§ 358-a; 384-b

• The parent has abandoned the youngster for a period of 6 months.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or mental retardation
o Hospitalization or institutionalization for use of drugs or alcohol
• The parent has severely or repeatedly abused the youngster.
• The parent has substantially and repeatedly or continuously failed to maintain contact with or plan for the future of
the youngster for a period of more than 1 year.
• An incarcerated parent has failed to cooperate with efforts to assist the parent to plan for the future of the youngster or
to plan and arrange visits with the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, where the youngster has been either severely or
repeatedly abused.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or manslaughter, or the attempt to commit such crime, and the victim or intended victim was the youngster,
another youngster of the parent, or a youngster who was the parent’s legal responsibility
o Criminal solicitation, conspiracy, or facilitation of murder or manslaughter, and the victim or intended victim was the
youngster, another youngster of the parent, or a youngster who was the parent’s legal responsibility
o Assault or aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old, or an attempt to commit any such crime, and the
victim or intended victim was the youngster, another youngster of the parent, or a youngster who was the parent’s legal
responsibility
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Soc. Serv. Law § 384-b

When the youngster has been in foster care for 15 months of the most recent 22 months, has been determined to be an
abandoned youngster, or the parent has been convicted of one of the crimes listed above, a petition to terminate the
parent’s rights shall be filed unless:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative or relatives.
• The agency has documented in the most recent case plan a compelling reason for determining that the filing of a
petition would not be in the best interest of the youngster.
• The agency has not provided to the parent or mothers/fathers of the youngster such services as it deems necessary for
the safe return of the youngster to the parent or mothers/fathers, unless such services are not legally required.
For the purposes of this section, a compelling reason why a petition for termination of parent’s rights is not required
may include, but is not limited to:
• The youngster was placed into foster care and a review of the specific facts and circumstances of the youngster's
placement demonstrates that the appropriate permanency goal for the youngster is either a return to his or her parent or
guardian or discharge to independent living.
• The youngster has a permanency goal other than adoption.
• The youngster is 14 years of age or older and will not consent to his or her adoption.
• There are insufficient grounds for filing a petition to terminate parent’s rights.
• The youngster is the subject of a pending disposition.


North Carolina

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 7B-507; 7B-1111

• The parent has willfully abandoned the youngster for 6 months.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or mental retardation
o Substance abuse
• The parent has abused or neglected the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or another youngster residing in the home
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of the youngster, another
youngster of the parent, or another youngster residing in the home
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster, another youngster of the parent, or another
youngster in the home
• The youngster is in foster care, and the parent, for a period of 6 months, has failed to pay a reasonable portion of the
cost of the care when financially able to do so.
• The noncustodial parent has failed, for a period of 1 year, to pay for the care, support, and education of the youngster,
as required by the custody agreement.
• A putative father has failed to establish paternity or provide substantial financial support for the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and the parent lacks the ability
or willingness to establish a safe home.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 7B-1111

No parent’s rights shall be terminated for the sole reason that the mothers/fathers are unable to care for the youngster
on account of their poverty.


North Dakota

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 27-20-02; 27-20-20.1; 27-20-32.2; 27-20-44

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, which means circumstances in which a parent:
o Abandons, tortures, chronically abuses, or sexually abuses a youngster
o Fails to make substantial, meaningful efforts to secure treatment for addiction, mental illness, behavior disorder, or
any combination of those conditions
o Engages in deviate sexual acts, sexual abuse, or sexual imposition in which a youngster is the victim or intended victim
o Has been incarcerated under a sentence for which the release date is after the youngster reaches his or her majority or,
for a youngster under the age of 9 years, after the youngster is twice his or her current age
• The causes and conditions of a youngster’s deprivation are likely to continue and for that reason the youngster is
suffering or will probably suffer serious physical, mental, moral, or emotional harm.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder, voluntary manslaughter, negligently causing the death of another, or felony abuse or neglect of a youngster,
and the victim is another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit any of the above crimes in which the victim is a
youngster of the parent
o Aggravated assault that results in serious bodily injury to a youngster of the parent
• The youngster has been in foster care for at least 450 of the previous 660 nights.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 27-20-20.1

A petition for termination of parent’s rights need not be filed if:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative approved by the department.
• The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would
not be in the youngster's best interests.
• The department has determined:
o Reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family are required under § 27-20-32.2 to be made with respect to the
youngster.
o The case plan provides such services as are necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the youngster's home.
o Such services have not been provided consistent with time periods described in the case plan.


Northern Mariana Islands

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 8, § 1418

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to physical or mental incapacity, and such incapacity is
irremediable or will not be remedied by the parent.
• The parent’s conduct, faults, and habits have left the youngster without proper parental care and control, subsistence,
education, or other care necessary for the youngster’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Ohio

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 2151.414

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Chronic mental or emotional illness
o Mental retardation or physical disability
o Chemical dependency
• The parent is incarcerated for an offense committed against the youngster or a sibling of the youngster.
• The parent is incarcerated and thereby will not be available to care for the youngster for at least 18 months, or the
parent is repeatedly incarcerated, and the repeated incarceration prevents the parent from providing care for the
youngster.
• The parent has committed any abuse against the youngster, or caused or allowed the youngster to suffer any neglect.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of or pled guilty to:
o Murder, aggravated murder, or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent or another youngster
living in the household
o Assault, aggravated assault, or felonious assault of the youngster, a sibling, or another youngster living in the
household
o Endangering kids, rape, sexual battery, corruption of a minor, sexual imposition, or gross sexual imposition, and the
victim was the youngster, a sibling, or another youngster in the household
o A conspiracy or attempt to commit any of the offenses described above
• The parent has demonstrated a lack of commitment to the youngster by failing to regularly support, visit, or
communicate with the youngster when able to do so.
• The parent for any reason is unwilling to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other basic necessities for the youngster
or to prevent the youngster from suffering physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or physical, emotional, or mental
neglect.
• The parent has placed the youngster at substantial risk of harm due to alcohol or drug abuse, and has refused
treatment.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Oklahoma

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 10, § 7006-1.1

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness or mental deficiency
o Extensive, abusive, and chronic use of drugs or alcohol
o Incarceration of a duration that would be detrimental to the parent-youngster relationship
• The parent has physically or sexually abused the youngster or a sibling of the youngster, or has failed to protect the
youngster from physical or sexual abuse.
• The youngster has been adjudicated a deprived youngster as a result of a single incident of severe sexual abuse, severe
neglect, or the infliction of serious bodily injury.
• The parent has inflicted chronic abuse, chronic neglect, or torture on the youngster, a sibling, or a youngster residing
in the household.
• The youngster or a sibling has suffered severe harm or injury as a result of physical or sexual abuse.
• The youngster was conceived as a result of rape.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Causing the death of a youngster as a result of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or chronic abuse or neglect of such
youngster
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of any youngster
o A felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has willfully failed, refused, or neglected to contribute to the support of the youngster when financially able
to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain frequent and regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and the conditions that led to
the termination have not been corrected.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Oregon

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 419B.340; 419B.502; 419B.504; 419B.506;
419B.508

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Addictive or habitual use of intoxicating liquors or controlled substances
o Criminal conduct that impairs the parent’s ability to care for the youngster
• The parent has been found unfit by reason of a single or recurrent incident of extreme conduct toward any youngster.
Such conduct can include:
o Rape, sodomy, or sex abuse of any youngster of the parent
o Intentional starvation or torture of any youngster of the parent
o Abuse or neglect that results in death or serious physical injury
o Conduct by the parent to aid or abet another person who, by abuse or neglect, caused the death of any youngster
o Conduct by the parent to attempt, solicit, or conspire to cause the death of any youngster
o Conduct by the parent that knowingly exposes any youngster of the parent to the storage or production of
methamphetamines
• The parent has physically neglected the youngster.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has failed or neglected without reasonable or lawful cause to provide for the basic physical or psychological
needs of the youngster for 6 months.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation or other contact with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and the conditions that led to
the previous action have not been corrected.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 419B.498

The department shall file a petition to terminate the parent’s rights of a parent when the youngster has been in foster
care for 15 of the most recent 22 months or there are grounds to terminate unless:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative and that placement is intended to be permanent.
• There is a compelling reason, which is documented in the case plan, for determining that filing such a petition would
not be in the best interests of the youngster. Such compelling reasons include, but are not limited to:
o The parent is successfully participating in services that will make it possible for the youngster to safely return home
within a reasonable time.
o Another permanent plan is better suited to meet the health and safety needs of the youngster.
o The court or local citizen review board in a prior hearing or review determined that, while the case plan was to reunify
the family, the department did not make reasonable efforts or, if the Indian Youngster Welfare Act applies, active
efforts to make it possible for the youngster to safely return home.
• The department has not provided to the family of the youngster, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such
services as the department deems necessary for the youngster to safely return home, if reasonable efforts to make it
possible for the youngster to safely return home are required.


Pennsylvania

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights 42 PCSA § 6302; 23 PCSA § 2511

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has refused or failed to discharge parental duties.
• The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse, neglect, or refusal of the parent has caused the youngster to be without
essential parental care, control, or subsistence.
• The parent is the presumptive but not the natural father of the youngster.
• The parent is the father of a youngster conceived as a result of rape or incest.
• The parent has subjected the youngster or another youngster of the parent to aggravated circumstances, including, but
not limited to, physical abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, sexual abuse, or aggravated physical neglect.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses where the victim was a youngster:
o Criminal homicide
o Felony aggravated assault, rape, statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, or
aggravated indecent assault
o Misdemeanor indecent assault
o Attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit any of the offenses listed above
• In the case of a newborn youngster, the parent has failed for a period of 4 months to maintain substantial and
continuing contact and to provide substantial financial support for the youngster.
• The youngster has been removed from the home for 12 months or more, and the conditions that led to the removal
continue to exist.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights 23 PCSA § 2511

The rights of a parent shall not be terminated solely on the basis of environmental factors such as inadequate housing,
furnishings, income, clothing, and medical care if found to be beyond the control of the parent.


Puerto Rico

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 31, §§ 634a; 634b

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental or emotional defect or condition
o Alcoholism or addiction to controlled substances
• The parent has caused or put the youngster at substantial risk of suffering predictable harm or injury to his or her
physical, mental, emotional, or moral health.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder, manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter and attempt thereof
o Youngster abuse
o Crimes against the life and physical integrity
o Rape, sodomy, lewd acts, or indecent exposure
o Prostitution of a son or daughter, whether biological or adopted
o Obscene behavior as prohibited in § 4077 of Title 33
o Noncompliance with the obligation to provide youngster support
o Abandonment of a youngster
o Sexual perversion of minors
o Public begging
o Abuse, aggravated abuse, abuse by threat, abuse by restriction of liberty, and conjugal sexual assault, part of the law
known as the 'Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Act'
• The parent has failed to support the youngster when financially able to do so.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• The parent has failed to assume the care and guardianship of the youngster in his or her home.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 31, § 634a

No person may be deprived of patria potestas for the legitimate practice of religious beliefs.


Rhode Island

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 15-7-7

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Institutionalization, including imprisonment, of such duration that the parent cannot care for the youngster for an
extended period of time
o A chronic substance abuse problem
• The parent has subjected the youngster to conduct of a cruel or abusive nature.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• The youngster has been in the custody of the department for at least 12 months, and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate
the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has willfully neglected to provide proper care and maintenance for the youngster when financially able to
do so.
• The parent has failed to communicate with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated, and the parent continues to lack
the ability to respond to services.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


South Carolina

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 20-7-763; 20-7-1572

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness, mental deficiency, or extreme physical incapacity
o Drug or alcohol addiction
• The parent has tortured, abused, or severely maltreated the youngster.
• The parent’s physical abuse of the youngster has resulted in death or serious physical injury to the youngster requiring
admission to a hospital.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, severe or repeated abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the
parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has been convicted of the murder of the youngster’s other parent.
• The parent has willfully failed to support the youngster for a period of 6 months, when financially able to do so.
• The parent has willfully failed to visit the youngster for a period of 6 months.
• The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the youngster.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


South Dakota

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 26-8A-26.1; 26-8A-27

• The parent has abandoned the youngster for at least 6 months.
• The parent is incarcerated and unavailable to care for the youngster for a significant period of time.
• The parent has a documented history of abuse or neglect associated with chronic alcohol or drug abuse.
• The parent has subjected the youngster or another youngster to abandonment, torture, sexual abuse, chronic physical,
mental, or emotional injury, or chronic neglect if the neglect was a serious threat to the safety of the youngster or
another youngster.
• The parent has committed any of the following crimes:
o Murder, felony murder, or manslaughter
o Rape, incest, sexual exploitation of kids, abuse of or cruelty to minors
o Aggravated assault against the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• The parent has exposed the youngster to or demonstrated an inability to protect the youngster from substantial harm
or risk of substantial harm, and the youngster or another youngster:
o Has been removed from the parent’s custody on at least one previous occasion
o Has been removed from the parent’s custody on two separate occasions, and the Department of Social Services
offered or provided services on each of those occasions
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Tennessee

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 36-1-113; 37-1-166

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent has been found to be mentally incompetent to adequately provide care for the youngster.
• The parent has committed severe youngster abuse against the youngster or any sibling or half-sibling.
• The parent has been incarcerated for a sentence of more than 2 years for conduct against the youngster.
• The parent has been incarcerated for a criminal act for a sentence of 10 or more years, and the youngster is under the
age of 8 years at the time the sentence is entered.
• The parent has been convicted or found civilly liable for the intentional and wrongful death of the youngster’s other
parent or legal guardian.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has committed:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of sibling or half-sibling of the youngster
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of the youngster or any sibling
or half-sibling
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or any sibling or half-sibling
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
• The parent has failed to support the youngster in accordance with the youngster support guidelines.
• The parent has failed to seek reasonable visitation with the youngster, or when visitation has been granted, has failed
to visit.
• A person has failed to establish paternity within 30 days after notice of alleged paternity.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 36-1-166

At the option of the department, the department may determine that a petition to terminate the parent’s rights of the
youngster's mothers/fathers shall not be filed if one of the following exists:

• The youngster is being cared for by a relative.
• The department has documented in the permanency plan a compelling reason for determining that filing such a
petition would not be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The department has not made reasonable efforts to provide to the family of the youngster, consistent with the time
period in the department permanency plan, such services as the department deems necessary for the safe return of the
youngster to the youngster's home.


Texas

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Fam. Code §§ 161.001; 161.002; 161.003; 161.007

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Mental illness, emotional illness, or mental deficiency
o Use of a controlled substance
o Incarceration for not less than 2 years
• The parent knowingly placed or allowed the youngster to remain in conditions or surroundings or with persons who
engaged in conduct that endangered the physical or emotional well-being of the youngster.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of being criminally responsible for the death or serious injury of a youngster or any of
the following crimes against a youngster:
o Murder or capital murder
o Indecency with a youngster, assault, sexual assault, aggravated assault, or aggravated sexual assault
o Injury to a youngster, elderly individual, or disabled individual
o Abandoning or endangering a youngster
o Prohibited sexual conduct, sexual performance by a youngster, or possession or promotion of youngster pornography
• The parent is the father of a youngster conceived as a result of a sexual offense.
• The parent has failed to support the youngster in accordance with the parent’s ability for 1 year.
• The parent abandoned the mother of the youngster during her pregnancy and failed to provide adequate support or
medical care for the mother, and failed to support the youngster since birth.
• An alleged father has failed to register with the paternity registry or to respond to notice.
• The parent has been the major cause of:
o The youngster’s failure to be enrolled in school as required by law
o The youngster’s absence from home without the consent of the mothers/fathers or guardian for a substantial length of
time or without the intent to return
• The parent has been the cause of the youngster being born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance.
• The parent voluntarily delivered the youngster to a designated emergency infant care provider.
• The parent has failed to maintain regular visitation, contact, or communication with the youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Utah

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 78-3a-403; 78-3a-407; 78-3a-408; 78-3a-311

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Habitual or excessive use of intoxicating liquors, controlled substances, or dangerous drugs
o A conviction and incarceration for a felony, and the sentence will deprive the youngster of a normal home for more
than 1 year
o A history of violent behavior
• The parent has subjected the youngster to conduct of a physically, emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive nature.
• The parent’s substantiated abuse or neglect has resulted in sexual abuse, injury, or death of a sibling of the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to a single incident of life-threatening or gravely disabling injury or
disfigurement.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has committed, or aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary
manslaughter of a youngster or youngster abuse homicide.
• The parent has repeatedly or continuously failed to provide the youngster with adequate food, clothing, shelter,
education, or other care necessary for his or her physical, mental, and emotional health and development.
• The parent has failed to communicate with the youngster.
• The parent has met the terms and conditions of a safe relinquishment of a newborn youngster.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 78-3a-407

• The court may not terminate the parent’s rights of a parent because the parent has failed to complete a treatment plan.
• If the court has directed the division to provide reunification services to a parent, the court must find that the division
made reasonable efforts to provide those services before the court may terminate the parent’s rights.


Vermont

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 15A, § 3-504

• In the case of a youngster under the age of 6 months, the parent did not exercise parental responsibility once he or she
knew or should have known of the youngster's birth or expected birth. In making a determination under this
subdivision, the court shall consider all relevant factors, which may include the respondent's failure to:
o Pay reasonable prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses in accordance with his or her financial means
o Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with his or her financial means, for the support of the
youngster
o Regularly communicate or visit with the minor
o Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor
• In the case of a youngster over the age of 6 months at the time the petition is filed, the respondent did not exercise
parental responsibility for a period of at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition. In making a
determination under this subdivision, the court shall consider all relevant factors, which may include the respondent's
failure to:
o Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with his or her financial means, for the support of the
youngster, although legally obligated to do so
o Regularly communicate or visit with the minor
o During any time the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent, to manifest an ability and willingness to
assume legal and physical custody of the minor
• The respondent has been convicted of a crime of violence or has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to
have committed an act of violence that violated a restraining or protective order, and the facts of the crime or violation
indicate that the respondent is unfit to maintain a relationship of parent and youngster with the minor.
• An alleged father has failed to establish paternity.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 15A, § 3-504

If the respondent has proved by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she had good cause for not complying with
the support and care provisions above or that, for compelling reasons, termination due to conviction of a crime is not
justified, the court may not terminate the respondent's parent’s rights to a minor except upon a finding by clear and
convincing evidence that any one of the grounds [for termination] exists and that termination is in the best interest of
the minor.


Virgin Islands

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights Tit. 5, § 2550

• The parent has abused or neglected the youngster.
• The youngster has been in an out-of-home placement for 6 months or more and that during that time the Department
of Social Welfare has made continuous diligent, but unsuccessful efforts to reasonably insure that the youngster will not
be subject to further abuse and neglect if returned home and the parent has not made a good-faith and diligent effort at
rehabilitation.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Virginia

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 16.1-283

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Habitual abuse or addiction to intoxicating liquors, narcotics, or other dangerous drugs
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, torture, chronic or
severe abuse, or chronic or severe sexual abuse. It includes the failure to protect the youngster from such conduct.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of a youngster of the parent, a youngster with whom the parent resided, or the
other parent of the youngster
o Felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any such offense
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury, felony bodily wounding, or felony sexual assault, and the victim
was a youngster of the parent or a youngster residing with the parent
• The parent has failed to maintain continuing contact with the youngster for 6 months after the youngster has been
placed in foster care.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 16.1-283

• Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, residual parent’s rights shall not be terminated if it is established
that the youngster, if he or she is 14 years of age or older or otherwise of an age of discretion as determined by the court,
objects to such termination.
• Residual parent’s rights of a youngster 14 years of age or older may be terminated over the objection of the youngster
if the court finds that any disability of the youngster reduces the youngster's developmental age and that the youngster
is not otherwise of an age of discretion.


Washington

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 13.34.132; 13.34.180

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Psychological incapacity or mental deficiency
o Use of intoxicating or controlled substances
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, that may include one or more of the following:
o Conviction of the parent of rape, criminal mistreatment, or assault of the youngster
o Conviction of the parent of murder, manslaughter, or homicide by abuse of the youngster’s other parent, a sibling, or
another youngster
o Conviction of the parent of attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit any of the above crimes
o Commission of assault against a surviving youngster or another youngster of the parent
o A finding that the parent is a sexually violent predator
o Failure of the parent to complete available ordered treatment, and that failure has resulted in the termination of parent’
s rights to another youngster
o Conviction of the parent of a sex offense or incest when a youngster is born of the offense
• The youngster has been found to be a dependent youngster, has been removed from the custody of the parent for at
least 6 months, and there is little likelihood that conditions will be remedied so that the youngster can be returned to the
parent in the near future.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 13.34.180

A parent’s failure to remedy conditions for 12 months shall give rise to a presumption that there is little likelihood of
reunification unless it is shown that all necessary services have not been clearly offered or provided.


West Virginia

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 49-6-5

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to:
o Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
o Habitual abuse or addiction to alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs
• The parent has repeatedly or seriously injured the youngster physically or emotionally.
• The parent has sexually abused or exploited the youngster.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has:
o Committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Attempted or conspired to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Committed a felonious assault that results in serious bodily injury to the youngster or another youngster of the parent
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 49-6-5b

A petition shall be filed when the youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months. The department
may determine not to file a petition to terminate parent’s rights when:

• At the option of the department, the youngster has been placed with a relative.
• The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason, including but not limited to, the youngster's age
and preference for termination or the youngster's placement in custody of the department based on another proceeding,
that filing the petition would not be in the best interests of the youngster.
• The department has not provided, when reasonable efforts to return a youngster to the family are required, the
services to the youngster's family as the department deems necessary for the safe return of the youngster to the home.


Wisconsin

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights §§ 48.415; 48.355

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is unable to discharge his or her parental duties due to continuing parental disability due to mental illness
or developmental disability.
• The parent has exhibited a pattern of physically or sexually abusive behavior that is a substantial threat to the health
of youngster.
• The parent has caused death or injury to the youngster or kids resulting in a felony conviction.
• The youngster was conceived as a result of sexual assault or incest.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to an aggravated circumstance, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The parent has committed a serious felony against one of the person’s kids, that may include:
o Intentional homicide, reckless homicide, or felony murder
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit intentional homicide, reckless homicide, or felony
murder
o Battery, sexual assault, physical abuse, sexual exploitation or neglect of a youngster, incest with a youngster, or
soliciting a youngster for prostitution
o Neglect of a youngster that results in the death of the youngster
• The parent has committed homicide or solicitation to commit homicide of the youngster’s other parent.
• The parent has failed to assume parental responsibility for the youngster.
• The parent has failed to visit or communicate with the youngster for 3 months or longer.
• The parent has relinquished the youngster when the youngster was 72 hours old or younger.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights Not addressed in statutes reviewed.


Wyoming

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parent’s rights § 14-2-309

• The parent has abandoned the youngster.
• The parent is incarcerated due to the conviction of a felony and a showing that the parent is unfit.
• The parent has subjected the youngster to aggravated circumstances, including, but not limited to, abandonment,
torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
• The parent has abused or neglected the youngster and reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have failed.
• The youngster has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, and a showing that the parent is unfit to
have custody and control of the youngster.
• The youngster was relinquished to a safe haven provider, and neither parent has affirmatively sought the return of the
youngster within 3 months.
• The parent has been convicted of:
o Murder or voluntary manslaughter of another youngster of the parent
o Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another
youngster of the parent
o A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to a youngster of the parent
• The youngster has been left in the care of another without provision for the youngster’s support and without
communication from the absent parent for at least 1 year.
• Parent’s rights to another youngster of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parent’s rights § 14-3-431

When a youngster has been placed in foster care under the responsibility of the State for 15 of the most recent 22
months, the State shall file a petition to terminate parent’s rights unless:

• The youngster is in the care of a relative.
• The State agency has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing the petition is not in
the best interest of the youngster.
• The State agency has not provided services to the youngster's family deemed necessary for the safe return of the
youngster to the home, if reasonable efforts are required to be made.
Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights (relinquishment): Releases a father or mother from
all parental responsibilities, including child support. Full instructions & Forms are included.
Grounds for Involuntary Termination
of Parental Rights
Summary of State Laws