Failure to Provide Support
Failure to Establish Paternity
Child's Best Interest
Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)
Felony assault of child or sibling
Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination
Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity
Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent
Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child
Full Text of Statute
Del. Code Ann. tit. 13, § 1103 (WESTLAW through 2002 Ex. Sess.)
The child has been abandoned: The court may order a termination of parental rights based upon abandonment if the court finds that the following occurred and that the respondent intended to abandon the child:
In the case of a minor who has not attained 6 months of age, and for whom the respondent has failed to pay reasonable prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses in accordance with the respondent's financial means; visit regularly with the minor; and manifest a willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor, if, during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent;
In the case of a minor who has attained 6 months of age, the respondent, for a period of at least 6 consecutive months in the preceding year, has failed to communicate or visit regularly with the minor; and manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor, if, during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent; or
In the case of a minor who has not attained 6 months of age, and for whom the respondent has manifested the unwillingness to exercise parental rights and responsibilities, as evidenced by the respondent's placing the minor in circumstances which leave the minor in substantial risk of injury or death.
In cases in which no finding of intent to abandon has been made, the court may order a termination of parental rights based upon abandonment if the court finds that the respondent, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months in the 18 months preceding the filing of the petition, has failed to:
Communicate or visit regularly with the minor;
File or pursue a pending petition to establish paternity or to establish a right to have contact or visitation with the minor; and
Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor, if during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the parent.
And if the court finds that one of the following grounds exist:
If the minor is not in the legal and physical custody of the other parent: The respondent is not able or willing to promptly assume legal and physical custody of the minor, and to pay for the minor's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means;
If the minor is in the legal and physical custody of the other parent and a stepparent, and the stepparent is the prospective adoptive parent: The respondent is not able or willing promptly to establish and maintain contact with the minor and to pay for the minor's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means;
Placing the minor in the respondent's legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the minor because the circumstances of the minor's conception, the respondent's behavior during the mother's pregnancy or since the minor's birth, or the respondent's behavior with respect to other minors, indicates that the respondent is unfit to maintain a relationship of parent and child with the minor; or
Failure to terminate would be detrimental to the minor. In determining whether a failure to terminate would be detrimental to the minor, the court shall consider any relevant factor, including the respondent's efforts to obtain or maintain legal and physical custody of the minor and ability to care for the minor, the role of other persons in thwarting the respondent's efforts to assert parental rights, the age of the minor, the quality of previous relationship between the respondent and the minor and any other minor children, the duration and suitability of the minor's current custodial environment and the effect of a change of physical custody on the minor; and
The respondent's act of abandonment cannot be cured by subsequent conduct.
Abandonment of a baby as provided in § 907 of Title 16 shall be final 30 days after such abandonment, and such abandonment shall be:
The surrendering person's irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of such person on the ground of abandonment; and
The surrendering person's irrevocable waiver of any right of notice of or opportunity to participate in any proceeding involving such child, unless such surrendering person has manifested an intent to exercise parental rights within 30 days of such abandonment.
The parent(s) of the child or any person(s) holding parental rights over such child are found by the court to be mentally incompetent and, from evidence of two qualified psychiatrists selected by the court, found to be unable to discharge parental responsibilities in the foreseeable future.
The respondent has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have:
Committed a felony level offense against the person in which the victim or any other child is the subject of the petition; or
Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit an offense against the person; or
Committed or attempted to commit the offense of dealing in children; or
Committed the felony level offense of endangering the welfare of a child.
The parent or parents of the child, or any person or persons holding parental rights over the child, are not able, or have failed, to plan adequately for the child's physical needs or mental and emotional health and development, and one or more of the following conditions are met:
The child has been in the care of the department or licensed agency for a period of 1 year, or for a period of 6 months in the case of a child who comes into care as an infant, or there is a history of previous placement(s) of this child; or
There is a history of neglect, abuse or lack of care of the child or other children by the respondent;
The respondent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities due to extended or repeated incarceration, except that the court may consider post-conviction conduct of the
The respondent is not able or willing to assume promptly legal and physical custody of the child, and to pay for the child's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means;
Failure to terminate the relationship of parent and child will result in continued emotional instability or physical risk to the child. In making a determination, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
Whether the conditions that led to the child's placement, or similar conditions of a harmful nature, continue to exist and there appears to be little likelihood that these conditions will be remedied at an early date which would enable the respondent to discharge parental responsibilities so that the child can be returned to the respondent in the near future;
The respondent's efforts to assert parental rights to the child, and the role of other persons in thwarting the respondent's efforts to assert such rights;
The respondent's ability to care for the child, the age of the child, the quality of any previous relationship between the respondent and the child or any other children;
The effect of a change of physical custody on the child; and
The effect of a delay in termination on the chances for a child to be placed for adoption.
The respondent's parental rights over a sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition have been involuntarily terminated in a prior proceeding.
The parent has subjected the child to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, and/or life-threatening abuse.
The child has suffered unexplained serious physical injury under such circumstances as would indicate that such injuries resulted from the intentional conduct or willful neglect of the parent.