Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Arkansas

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-27-341

An order forever terminating parental rights shall be based upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child, including consideration of one or more of the following grounds:

  • The child has lived outside the home of the parent for a period of 12 months, and the parent has willfully failed to provide significant material support in accordance with the parent's means or to maintain meaningful contact with the child.
  • The parent is not the biological parent of the child, and the welfare of the child can best be served by terminating the parental rights of the parent.
  • A parent has abandoned the child.
  • A parent has executed consent to termination of parental rights or adoption of the child.
  • The court has found the child or a sibling dependent neglected as a result of neglect or abuse that could endanger the life of the child, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation, any of which was perpetrated by the child's parent or stepparent.
  • The parent has manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the parent's circumstances that prevent return of the child to the custody of the parent. The inability or incapacity to remedy or rehabilitate includes, but is not limited to, mental illness, emotional illness, or mental deficiencies.
  • The parent is incarcerated for a period of time that would constitute a substantial period of the child's life.
  • The parent is found by a court of competent jurisdiction, including the juvenile division of circuit court, to have done any of the following:
    • Committed murder or manslaughter of any child or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such crime
    • Committed a felony battery that results in serious bodily injury to any child or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such crime
    • Subjected any child to aggravated circumstances
    • Had his or her parental rights involuntarily terminated with regard to a sibling of the child
    • Abandoned an infant, as defined by § 9-27-303(2)
  • A putative parent has not established paternity or significant contacts with his or her child after being named and served as a party in a dependency-neglect proceeding or receiving notice of a dependency-neglect proceeding under § 9-27-311 or § 9-27-325.

'Aggravated circumstances' means any of the following:

  • A child has been abandoned, chronically abused, subjected to extreme or repeated cruelty, sexually abused, or a determination has been or is made by a judge that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification.
  • A child has been removed from the custody of the parent or guardian and placed in foster care or in the custody of another person three or more times in the past 15 months.
  • A child or a sibling has been neglected or abused to the extent that the abuse or neglect could endanger the life of the child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-27-369(1); 9-27-370

The Department of Human Services or an attorney ad litem may file a motion to resume services for a parent whose parental rights were previously terminated if the following is true:

  • The following applies to the child:
    • Is currently in the custody of the department
    • Is not in an adoptive placement or a preadoptive placement, or another permanent placement is not likely to achieve permanency within a reasonable time
    • Was previously adopted, appointed a permanent guardian, or placed in the permanent custody of another individual and the adoption, guardianship, or custodial placement was disrupted or otherwise dissolved
  • The order terminating the parental rights of the parent was entered at least 3 years before the date on which the motion to resume services was filed.

The 3-year waiting period may be waived if it is in the best interests of the child.

The department or an attorney ad litem may file a petition to reinstate the parental rights of a parent whose parental rights have been terminated if the following apply:

  • The court has granted a motion to resume services under § 9-27-369.
  • Services have continued for at least 180 days after the court granted a motion to resume services.
  • The parent for whom reinstatement of parental rights is sought has substantially complied with the orders of the court and with the case plan.

Before a hearing on the petition, the department shall provide the parent, parent's counsel, attorney ad litem, court-appointed special advocate, and any other party to the petition with a written report that includes information on the following:

  • The efforts made by the department to achieve adoption or another permanent placement for the child, including any barriers to the adoption or permanent placement of the child
  • The extent to which the parent has complied with the case plan and orders of the court
  • The impact of the resumed services on the parent and on the health, safety, and well-being of the child
  • Any recommendations of the department

Parental rights may be reinstated under this section if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that both of the following apply:

  • Reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child.
  • There has been a material change in the circumstances of the parent since the date on which the order terminating the parental rights of the parent was entered.

The court shall consider the following factors when determining whether a reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child:

  • The likelihood of the child achieving permanency through adoption or another permanent placement
  • The age, maturity, and preference of the child concerning the reinstatement of parental rights
  • The parent's fitness and whether the parent has remedied the conditions that existed at the time of the termination of his or her parental rights
  • The effect that the reinstatement of parental rights would have on the health, safety, and well-being of the child

A court may deny the petition if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent engaged in conduct that interfered with the child's ability to achieve permanency.

An order reinstating the parental rights of the parent restores all rights, powers, privileges, immunities, duties, and obligations of the parent as to the child, including, without limitation, custody, control, and support of the child.

If the child is placed with a parent whose parental rights are reinstated, the court shall not close the case until the child has resided with the parent for at least 6 months.