Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights New Mexico

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Statute: 32A-4-28(B)-(E); 32A-4-2(C),(D); 32A-4-29(K)

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination

Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest


Failure of Reasonable Efforts

Abuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child

Sexual Abuse

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

Felony Conviction/Incarceration

Failure to Maintain Contact

Failure to Provide Support

Failure to Establish Paternity

Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent

N.M. Stat. Ann. 32A-4-2(C), (D) (Lexis, WESTLAW through 2000 2nd Reg. Sess. & 2nd Spec. Sess.)

'Aggravated circumstances' include those circumstances in which the parent, guardian, or custodian has:

Attempted, conspired to cause or caused great bodily harm to the child or great bodily harm or death to the child's sibling;

Attempted, conspired to cause or caused great bodily harm or death to another parent, guardian, or custodian of the child;

Attempted, conspired to subject or has subjected the child to torture, chronic abuse or sexual abuse; or

Had his parental rights over a sibling of the child terminated involuntarily.

'Great bodily harm' means an injury to a person that creates a high probability of death, that causes serious disfigurement or that results in permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any member or organ of the body.

N.M. Stat. Ann. 32A-4-28(B)-(E) (West, WESTLAW through 2002 2nd Reg. Sess.)

The court shall terminate parental rights with respect to a child when:

There has been an abandonment of the child by his parents;

The child has been a neglected or abused child as defined in the Abuse and Neglect Act [this article] and the court finds that the conditions and causes of the neglect and abuse are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future despite reasonable efforts by the Department or other appropriate agency to assist the parent in adjusting the conditions that render the parent unable to properly care for the child. The court may find in some cases that efforts by the Department or another agency are unnecessary, when: there is a clear showing that the efforts would be futile; the parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances; the parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been terminated involuntarily; or
The child has been placed in the care of others, including care by other relatives, either by a court order or otherwise and the following conditions exist:

The child has lived in the home of others for an extended period of time;

The parent-child relationship has disintegrated;
A psychological parent-child relationship has developed between the substitute family and the child;

If the court deems the child of sufficient capacity to express a preference, the child no longer prefers to live with the natural parent;

The substitute family desires to adopt the child; and

A presumption of abandonment created by the conditions described above has not been rebutted.

A finding by the court that all of the conditions set forth above exist shall create a rebuttable presumption of abandonment.

The Department shall not file a motion, and shall not join a motion filed by another party, to terminate parental rights when the sole factual basis for the motion is that a child's parent is incarcerated.

The termination of parental rights involving a child subject to the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 shall comply with the requirements of that Act.

N.M. Stat. Ann. 32A-4-29(K) (West, WESTLAW through N.M. 2003 Legis. Serv., Ch. 108)

When a child has been in the custody of the department for not less than 15 of the previous 22 months, the department shall file a motion to terminate parental rights, unless:

A parent has made substantial progress toward eliminating the problem that caused the child's placement in foster care; it is likely that the child will be able to safely return to the parent's home within 3 months; and the childs return to the parent's home will be in the child's best interests;

The child has a close and positive relationship with a parent and a permanent plan that does not include termination of parental rights will provide the most secure and appropriate placement for the child;

The child is 13 years of age or older, is firmly opposed to termination of parental 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 parental rights to be terminated; provided that the parent has designated a guardian for his child;

The child is not capable of functioning if placed in a family setting. In such a case, the court shall reevaluate the status of the child every 90 days unless there is a final court determination that the child cannot be placed in a family setting;

Grounds do not exist for termination of parental rights;

The child is an unaccompanied, refugee minor and the situation regarding the child involves international legal issues or compelling foreign policy issues; or

Adoption is not an appropriate plan for the child.
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