Parental Right Termination

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Massachusetts General Law Ch.119 § 26(4); Ch.210 § 3(6)

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination

  • Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest
  • Abuse/Neglect
  • Mental Illness or Deficiency
  • Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity
  • Felony Conviction/Incarceration
  • Failure of Reasonable EffortsAbuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Failure to Maintain Contact
  • Failure to Provide Support
  • Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent
  • Child’s Best Interest
  • Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)
  • Felony assault of child or sibling
  • Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child

Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination

Failure to Establish Paternity

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 119, § 26(4) (West, WESTLAW through 2000 2nd Ann. Sess.)

The Department of Social Services shall file a petition or, in the alternative, a motion to amend a petition pending pursuant to this section, to dispense with parental consent to adoption, custody, guardianship or other disposition of the child under the following circumstances:

The child has been abandoned;

The parent has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of such parent, of aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter or of an assault constituting a felony which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of such parent; or

The child has been in foster care in the custody of the State for 15 of the immediately preceding
22 months.

For the purposes of this paragraph, a child shall be considered to have entered foster care
on the earlier of: the date of the first judicial finding that the child has been subjected to abuse or neglect; or the date that is 60 days after the date on which the child is removed from the home.

For the purposes of this section, ‘serious bodily injury’ shall mean bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.

Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 210, § 3(c) (West, WESTLAW through 1999 1st Ann. Sess.)

In determining whether the best interests of the child will be served by granting a petition for adoption without requiring certain consent, the court shall consider the ability, capacity, fitness and readiness of the child’s parents to assume parental responsibility, and shall also consider the ability, capacity, fitness and readiness of the petitioners to assume such responsibilities. In making the determination, the health and safety of the child shall be of paramount, but not exclusive, concern.

In considering such fitness of the child’s parent, the court shall consider including without limitation, the following factors:

The child has been abandoned;

The child or another member of the immediate family of such child has been abused or neglected as a result of the acts or omissions of one or both parents, the parents were offered
or received services intended to correct the circumstances which led to the abuse or neglect and refused, or were unable to utilize such services on a regular and consistent basis, so
that a substantial danger of abuse or neglect continues to exist, or have utilized such services on a regular and consistent basis without effectuating a substantial and material
or permanent change in the circumstances which led to the abuse or neglect;

A court of competent jurisdiction has transferred custody of the child from the child’s parents to the Department, the placement has lasted for at least 6 months and the parents
have not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child during the previous 6 months nor have they, on a regular and consistent basis, accepted or productively
utilized services intended to correct the circumstances;

The child is 4 years of age or older, a court of competent jurisdiction has transferred custody of the child from the child’s parents to the Department and custody has remained with the Department for at least 12 of the immediately preceding 15 months and, the child cannot be returned to the custody of his parents at the end of such 15-month period; provided, however, that the parents were offered or received services intended to correct the circumstances
and refused or were unable to utilize such services on a regular and consistent basis;

The child is younger than 4 years of age, a court of competent jurisdiction has transferred custody of the child from the child’s parents to the Department and custody has remained with the Department for at least 6 of the immediately preceding 12 months and, the child cannot be returned to the custody of his parents at the end of such 12-month period; provided, however, that the parents were offered or received services intended to correct the circumstances and refused or were unable to utilize such services on a regular and consistent basis;

The parent, without excuse, fails to provide proper care or custody for the child and there is a reasonable expectation that the parent will not be able to provide proper care or custody within a reasonable time considering the age of the child; provided, however, that the parents were offered or received services intended to correct the circumstance and refused or were unable to utilize such services on a regular and consistent basis;

Because of the lengthy absence of the parent or the parent’s inability to meet the needs of the child, the child has formed a strong, positive bond with his substitute caretaker; the bond has existed for a substantial portion of the child’s life; the forced removal of the child from the caretaker would likely cause serious psychological harm to the child; and the parent lacks the capacity to meet the special needs of the child upon such removal;

A lack of effort by a parent to remedy conditions which create a risk of harm due to abuse or neglect of the child;

Severe or repetitive conduct of a physically, emotionally or sexually abusive or neglectful nature toward the child or another child in the home;

The willful failure to visit the child where the child is not in the custody of the parent;
The willful failure to support the child where the child is not in the custody of the parent.
Failure to support shall mean that the parent has failed to make material contribution to the child’s care when contribution has been requested by the department or ordered by the court;

A condition which is reasonably likely to continue for a prolonged, indeterminate period, such as alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, or mental illness, and the condition makes the parent unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child;

The conviction of a parent of a felony that the court finds is of such a nature that the child will be deprived of a stable home for a period of years; provided, however, that incarceration in and of itself shall not be grounds for termination of parental rights; or

Whether or not there has been a prior pattern of parental neglect or misconduct or an assault constituting a felony which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child and a likelihood of future harm to the child based on such prior pattern or assault.

For the purposes of this section, the term ‘abandoned’ shall mean being left without any provision for support, and without any person responsible to maintain care, custody, and control because the whereabouts of the person responsible is unknown and reasonable efforts to locate such person have been unsuccessful. A brief and temporary absence from the home, without the intent to abandon the child shall not constitute abandonment.

Children First Advocacy and or their employees or sub contractors do not provide legal advice in any situation. Children First Advocacy provides services associated with procedural actions concerning allegations child abuse or neglect and educational issues facing children and families in Massachusetts.