Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Florida

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Statute: § 39.806

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination

Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest


Felony Conviction/Incarceration

Failure of Reasonable Efforts

Abuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child

Sexual Abuse

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

Mental Illness or Deficiency

Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity

Failure to Maintain Contact

Failure to Provide Support

Failure to Establish Paternity

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 39.806 (West, WESTLAW through End of 2001 1st Reg. Sess.)

The department, the guardian ad litem, or any person who has knowledge of the facts alleged or who is informed of those facts and believes that they are true, may petition for the termination of parental rights under any of the following circumstances:

When the parent or parents have voluntarily executed a written surrender of the child and consented to the entry of an order giving custody of the child to the department for subsequent adoption and the department is willing to accept custody of the child;

Abandonment or when the identity or location of the parent or parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent search within 60 days;

When the parent or parents engaged in conduct toward the child or toward other children that demonstrates that the continuing involvement of the parent or parents in the parent-child relationship threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child irrespective of the provision of services. Provision of services may be evidenced by proof that services were provided through a previous plan or offered as a case plan from a child welfare agency;

When the parent of a child is incarcerated in a
State or Federal correctional institution and the
period of time for which the parent is expected
to be incarcerated will constitute a substantial
portion of the period of time before the child
will attain the age of 18 years; the incarcerated
parent has been determined by the court to be a
violent career criminal, a habitual violent
felony offender, or a sexual predator; has been
convicted of first degree or second degree
murder, or a sexual battery that constitutes a
capital, life, or first degree felony violation;
has been convicted of an offense in another
jurisdiction which is a substantially similar
offense to one of the offenses listed in this
paragraph; the court determines by clear and
convincing evidence that continuing the parental
relationship with the incarcerated parent would
be harmful to the child and, for this reason,
that termination of the parental rights of the
incarcerated parent is in the best interest of
the child;

A petition for termination of parental rights may
also be filed when a child has been adjudicated
dependent, a case plan has been filed with the
court, and the child continues to be abused,
neglected, or abandoned by the parents. In this
case, the failure of the parents to substantially
comply for a period of 12 months after an
adjudication of the child as a dependent child or
the child¿s placement into shelter care,
whichever came first, constitutes evidence of
continuing abuse, neglect, or abandonment unless
the failure to substantially comply with the case
plan was due either to the lack of financial
resources of the parents or to the failure of the
department to make reasonable efforts to reunify
the family. Such 12-month period may begin to run
only after the child's placement in shelter care
or the entry of a disposition order placing the
custody of the child with the department or a
person other than the parent and the approval by
the court of a case plan with a goal of
reunification with the parent, whichever came

When the parent or parents engaged in egregious
conduct or had the opportunity and capability to
prevent and knowingly failed to prevent egregious
conduct that threatens the life, safety, or
physical, mental, or emotional health of the
child or the child's sibling;

When the parent or parents have subjected the child to aggravated child abuse as defined in § 827.03, sexual battery or sexual abuse, or chronic abuse;

When the parent or parents have committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent, or a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent, or aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter or felony assault.

Reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families shall not be required if a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that any of the events described above have occurred.

When a petition for termination of parental rights is filed, a separate petition for dependency need not be filed and the department need not offer the parents a case plan with a goal of reunification, but may instead file with the court a case plan with a goal of termination of parental rights to allow continuation of services until the termination is granted or until further orders of the court are issued.
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