Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Connecticut

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-111a(a); 17a-112(j)

The Commissioner of Children and Families shall file a petition to terminate parental rights if any of the following apply:

  • The child has been in the custody of the commissioner for at least 15 consecutive months or at least 15 of the preceding 22 months.
  • The child has been abandoned.
  • A court of competent jurisdiction has found that any of the following is true:
    • The parent has killed, through a deliberate, nonaccidental act, a sibling of the child or has attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the killing of the child or a sibling of the child.
    • The parent has assaulted the child or a sibling of a child, through deliberate, nonaccidental act, and such assault resulted in serious bodily injury to the child.

The superior court may grant a petition filed pursuant to this section if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the following are true:

  • The Department of Children and Families has made reasonable efforts to locate the parent and to reunify the child with the parent unless the court finds in this proceeding that the parent is unable or unwilling to benefit from reunification efforts or determines that such efforts are not required.
  • Termination is in the best interests of the child.
  • The court finds that at least one of the following is true:
    • The child has been abandoned by the parent.
    • The child has been neglected, abused, or uncared for and has been in the custody of the department for at least 15 months, and the parent of such child has been provided specific steps to take to facilitate the return of the child to the parent and has failed to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation that would encourage the belief that within a reasonable time, considering the age and needs of the child, the parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child.
    • The child has been denied, by reason of an act or acts of parental commission or omission, including, but not limited to, sexual molestation or exploitation, severe physical abuse, or a pattern of abuse, the care, guidance, or control necessary for the child's physical, educational, moral, or emotional well-being. Nonaccidental or inadequately explained serious physical injury to a child shall constitute prima facie evidence of acts of parental commission or omission sufficient for the termination of parental rights.
    • There is no ongoing parent-child relationship, which means the relationship that ordinarily develops as a result of a parent having met on a day-to-day basis the physical, emotional, moral, and educational needs of the child, and to allow further time for the establishment or reestablishment of such parent-child relationship would be detrimental to the best interests of the child.
    • The parent of a child younger than age 7 who is neglected, abused, or uncared for has failed, is unable, or is unwilling to achieve such degree of personal rehabilitation that would encourage the belief that within a reasonable period of time, considering the age and needs of the child, the parent could assume a responsible position in the life of the child, and such parent's parental rights of another child were previously terminated pursuant to a petition filed by the commissioner.
    • The parent has killed through a deliberate, nonaccidental act another child of the parent or has attempted, conspired, or solicited such killing or has committed an assault, through a deliberate, nonaccidental act that resulted in serious bodily injury of another child of the parent.
    • The parent committed an act that constitutes sexual assault or compelled a spouse or cohabitor to engage in sexual intercourse by the use of force or by the threat of the use of force, if such act resulted in the conception of the child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-111a(b); 17a-112(k)

A petition to terminate rights shall be filed when the child has been in the custody of the commissioner for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months unless any of the following apply:

  • The child has been placed in the care of a relative.
  • There is a compelling reason to believe that termination of rights is not in the best interests of the child.
  • The parent has not been offered the services specified in the permanency plan to reunify the parent with the child.

In determining whether to terminate parental rights, the court shall consider the following:

  • The timeliness, nature, and extent of services made available to the parent and the child to facilitate the reunion of the child with the parent
  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to reunite the family
  • The terms of any applicable court order entered into and agreed upon by any individual or agency and the parent, and the extent to which all parties have fulfilled their obligations under that order
  • The feelings and emotional ties of the child with respect to the child's parents, any guardian of the child, or any person who has exercised physical care, custody, or control of the child for at least 1 year and with whom the child has developed significant emotional ties
  • The age of the child
  • The efforts the parent has made to adjust his or her circumstances, conduct, or conditions to make it in the child's best interests to return home in the foreseeable future, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • The extent to which the parent has maintained contact with the child, including visitations, communications, or contributions
    • The maintenance of regular contact or communication with the child's guardian or other custodian
  • The extent to which a parent has been prevented from maintaining a meaningful relationship with the child

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 45a-719; 52-212a

The court may grant a motion to set aside a judgment terminating parental rights and grant a petition for a new trial on the issue of the termination of parental rights. The court shall consider the best interests of the child, and no motion or petition may be granted if a final decree of adoption has been issued prior to the filing of any such motion or petition. Any person who has legal custody of the child or who has physical custody of the child pursuant to an agreement, including an agreement with the department or a licensed child-placing agency, may provide evidence to the court concerning the best interests of the child at any hearing held on the motion to set aside a judgment terminating parental rights.

For the purpose of this section, 'best interests of the child' shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • A consideration of the age of the child
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with the child's caregiver
  • The length of time the child has been in the custody of the caregiver
  • The nature of the relationship of the child with the birth parent
  • The length of time the child has been in the custody of the birth parent
  • Any relationship that may exist between the child and siblings or other children in the caregiver's household
  • The psychological and medical needs of the child

The determination of the best interests of the child shall not be based on a consideration of the socioeconomic status of the birth parent or the caregiver.

Unless otherwise provided by law and except in cases in which the court has continuing jurisdiction, a civil judgment rendered in the superior court may not be set aside unless a motion to set aside is filed within 4 months following the date on which it was issued. The continuing jurisdiction conferred on the court in preadoptive proceedings pursuant to § 17a-112(o) does not confer continuing jurisdiction on the court for purposes of reopening a judgment terminating parental rights. The parties may waive the provisions of this section or otherwise submit to the jurisdiction of the court, provided the filing of an amended petition for termination of parental rights does not constitute a waiver of the provisions of this section or a submission to the jurisdiction of the court to reopen a judgment terminating parental rights.