Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights California

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Statute: Welf. & Inst. Code 361.5(b), (h), (i); 366.26(c)(1)

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination

Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest


Mental Illness or Deficiency

Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity

Felony Conviction/Incarceration

Failure of Reasonable Efforts

Abuse/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

Felony assault of child or sibling

Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child

Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination

Failure to Establish Paternity

Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)

Cal. Welf. and Inst. Code 361.5(b), (h), (i) (West, WESTLAW through Cal. 2003 Legis. Serv., Ch. 28)<.p>

Reunification services need not be provided to a parent or guardian described in this subdivision when the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, any of the following:

That the whereabouts of the parent or guardian are unknown. A finding pursuant to this paragraph shall be supported by an affidavit or by proof that a reasonably diligent search has failed to locate the parent or guardian. The posting or publication of notices is not required in that search;

That the parent or guardian is suffering from a mental disability that renders him or her incapable of utilizing those services;

That the child or a sibling of the child has been previously adjudicated a dependent as a result of physical or sexual abuse, that following that adjudication the child had been removed from the custody of his or her parent or guardian, that the child has been returned to the custody of the parent or guardian from whom the child had been taken originally, and that the child is being removed due to additional physical or sexual abuse;

That the parent or guardian of the child has caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect;

That the child was brought within the jurisdiction of the court because of the conduct of that parent or guardian;

That the child has been adjudicated a dependent as a result of severe sexual abuse or the infliction of severe physical harm to the child, a sibling, as defined above, by a parent or guardian, and the court makes a factual finding that it would not benefit the child to pursue reunification services with the offending parent or guardian;

That the parent is not receiving reunification services for a sibling of the child;

That the child was conceived by means of the commission of an offense listed in the Penal Code of a lewd or lascivious act against a child, or substantial sexual contact with a child, or continuous sexual abuse of a child, or by an act committed outside of this State that, if committed in this State, would constitute one of those offenses. This paragraph only applies to the parent who committed the offense or act;

That the parent or guardian of the child willfully abandoned the child, and the court finds that the abandonment itself constituted a serious danger to the child; or that the parent or other person having custody of the child voluntarily surrendered physical custody of the child. For the purposes of this paragraph, 'serious danger' means that without the intervention of another person or agency, the child would have sustained severe or permanent disability, injury, illness, or death. For purposes of this paragraph, 'willful abandonment' may not be construed as actions taken in good faith by the parent without the intent of placing the child in serious danger;

That either the court ordered termination of reunification services for any siblings of the child because the parent or guardian failed to reunify with the sibling after the sibling had been removed from that parent or guardian; or the parental rights of a parent or guardian over any sibling of the child had been permanently severed, and that, according to the findings of the court, this parent or guardian has not subsequently made a reasonable effort to treat the problems that led to removal of the sibling of that child from that parent or guardian;
That the parent or guardian of the child has been convicted of a violent felony;

That the parent or guardian of the child has a history of extensive, abusive, and chronic use of drugs or alcohol and has resisted prior treatment for this problem during a 3-year period immediately prior to the filing of the petition that brought that child to the court's attention, or has failed or refused to comply with a program of drug or alcohol treatment described in the case plan on at least two prior occasions, even though the programs identified were available and accessible;

That the parent or guardian of the child has advised the court that he or she is not interested in receiving family maintenance or family reunification services or having the child returned to or placed in his or her custody and does not wish to receive family maintenance or reunification services;

That the parent or guardian has on one or more occasions willfully abducted the child or child's sibling from his or her placement and refused to disclose the child's or child's sibling whereabouts, refused to return physical custody of the child or child's sibling to his or her placement, or refused to return physical custody of the child or child's sibling to the social worker.

In determining whether reunification services will benefit the child, the court shall consider any information it deems relevant, including the following factors:

The specific act or omission comprising the severe sexual abuse or the severe physical harm inflicted on the child or the child's sibling;
The circumstances under which the abuse or harm was inflicted on the child or the child's sibling;

The severity of the emotional trauma suffered by the child or the child's sibling;

Any history of abuse of other children by the offending parent or guardian;

The likelihood that the child may be safely returned to the care of the offending parent or guardian within 12 months with no continuing supervision;

Whether or not the child desires to be reunified with the offending parent or guardian.

Cal. Welf. and Inst. Code 366.26(c)(1) (West, WESTLAW through 2002 Reg. Sess., 3rd Ex. Sess., and Mar. 2, 2002)

If the court determines, based on the assessment provided as ordered by law, and any other relevant evidence, by a clear and convincing standard, that it is likely the child will be adopted, the court shall terminate parental rights and order the child placed for adoption. The fact that the child is not yet placed in a pre-adoptive home nor with a relative or foster family who is prepared to adopt the child, shall not constitute a basis for the court to conclude that it is not likely the child will be adopted.
A finding that reunification services shall not be offered, that the whereabouts of a parent have been unknown for 6 months, or that the parent has failed to visit or contact the child for 6 months, or that the parent has been convicted of a felony indicating parental unfitness, or that the court has continued to remove the child from the custody of the parent or guardian and has terminated reunification services, shall constitute a sufficient basis for termination of parental rights unless the court finds a compelling reason for determining that termination would be detrimental to the child.
Visitor Comments (3)
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April - 4 weeks ago
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How do I get my children's father's rights terminated? They are 7 and 10 and he has no interest in them. They've tried to locate him to reach out to him and he is nowhere to be found. I have petitioned for sole physical custody and would like my fiancée to adopt the children when we become married. #1
LYNN (CALIFORNIA) - 6 months ago
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On severence of parental rights (by a court) of an ADOPTED CHILD AT 17 years of age, does this erase/eradicate any inheritance rights by the 17 year old child? (important to have this response sent to xxxx) ASAP THANK YOU VERY MUCH / #2
Jennifer - 1 year ago
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Is there a way I can fight termination to my parental rights? THe Dept. Of Social Services Worker is recommending to terminate my rights minor is 14 yrs of age. I did everything asked of me, visitations were complicated due to the fact I have no reliable transportation and/ or the worker was gone for periods of time Minor lives 45-50 mile away, where buses don't goand visits are supervised and the scheduling is complicated between mine and the worker #3
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