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Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Utah

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Statute: 78-3a-403(2); 407; 408

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 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)

Full Text of Statute

Utah Code Ann. 78-3a-403(2) (1996)


'Failure of parental adjustment' means that a parent or parents are unable or unwilling within a reasonable time to substantially correct the circumstances, conduct, or conditions that led to placement of their child outside of their home, notwithstanding reasonable and appropriate efforts made by the Division of Child and Family Services to return the child to that home.

Utah Code Ann. 78-3a-407 (West, WESTLAW through 2002 5th Spec. Sess.)

The court may terminate all parental rights with respect to a parent if it finds any one of the following:

That the parent has abandoned the child;

That the parent has neglected or abused the child;

That the parent is unfit or incompetent;

That the child is being cared for in an out-of-
home placement under the supervision of the court
or the division and the parent has substantially
neglected, willfully refused, or has been unable
or unwilling to remedy the circumstances that
cause the child to be in an out-of-home
placement, and there is a substantial likelihood
that the parent will not be capable of exercising
proper and effective parental care in the near
future;

Failure of parental adjustment, as defined above;

That only token efforts have been made by the
parent to support or communicate with the child;
to prevent neglect of the child; to eliminate the
risk of serious physical, mental, or emotional
abuse of the child; or to avoid being an unfit
parent;

The parent has voluntarily relinquished the
parent's parental rights to the child, and the
court finds that termination is in the child's
best interest;

The parent, after a period of trial during which
the child was returned to live in the child's own
home, substantially and continuously or
repeatedly refused or failed to give the child
proper parental care and protection; or

The terms and conditions of safe relinquishment
of a newborn child have been complied with.

The court may not terminate the parental rights
of a parent because the parent has failed to
complete the requirements of a treatment plan.

In any case in which the court has directed the
division to provide reunification services to a
parent, the court must find that the division made reasonable efforts to provide those services before the court may terminate the parent's rights under this section.

The court is not required to make the finding under the subsection above before terminating a parent's rights under 78-3a-407(1)(b) based upon abuse or neglect found by the court to have occurred subsequent to the adjudication; or if reasonable efforts are not required under Federal law.

Utah Code Ann. 78-3a-408 (Supp. 1998)

In determining whether a parent or parents have abandoned a child, it is prima facie evidence of abandonment that the parent or parents:

Although having legal custody of the child, have
surrendered physical custody of the child, and
for a period of 6 months following the surrender
have not manifested to the child or to the person
having the physical custody of the child a firm
intention to resume physical custody or to make
arrangements for the care of the child;

Have failed to communicate with the child by
mail, telephone, or otherwise for 6 months;

Failed to have shown the normal interest of a
natural parent, without just cause; or

Have abandoned an infant.

In determining whether a parent or parents are
unfit or have neglected a child the court shall
consider, but not be limited to, the following
circumstances, conduct, or conditions:

Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental
deficiency of the parent that renders him unable
to care for the immediate and continuing physical or emotional needs of the child for extended periods of time;

Conduct toward a child of a physically,
emotionally, or sexually cruel or abusive nature;

Habitual or excessive use of intoxicating
liquors, controlled substances, or dangerous
drugs that render the parent unable to care for
the child;

Repeated or continuous failure to provide the
child with adequate food, clothing, shelter,
education, or other care necessary for his
physical, mental, and emotional health and
development by a parent or parents who are
capable of providing that care. However, a parent
who, legitimately practicing his religious
beliefs, does not provide specified medical
treatment for a child is not for that reason
alone a negligent or unfit parent;

With regard to a child who is in the custody of
the division, if the parent is incarcerated as a
result of conviction of a felony, and the
sentence is of such length that the child will be
deprived of a normal home for more than 1 year; or

A history of violent behavior.

If a child has been placed in the custody of the
division and the parent or parents fail to comply
substantially with the terms and conditions of a
plan within 6 months after the date on which the
child was placed or the plan was commenced,
whichever occurs later, that failure to comply is
evidence of failure of parental adjustment.

The following circumstances constitute prima
facie evidence of unfitness:

Sexual abuse, injury, or death of a sibling of
the child, or of any child, due to known or
substantiated abuse or neglect by the parent or
parents;

Conviction of a crime, if the facts surrounding
the crime are of such a nature as to indicate the
unfitness of the parent to provide adequate care
to the extent necessary for the child's physical,
mental, or emotional health and development;

A single incident of life-threatening or gravely
disabling injury to or disfigurement of the
child; or

The parent has committed, aided, abetted,
attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit
murder or manslaughter of a child or child abuse
homicide.
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