Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - District of Columbia

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16-2353; 16-2354

The court may terminate parental rights when it finds that the termination is in the best interests of the child, and there is evidence of one of the following grounds:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • Drug-related activity continues to exist in the child's home environment after intervention and services have been provided.
  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following:
    • Murder or voluntary manslaughter of a child sibling or another child
    • Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter
    • A felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child, a child sibling, or another child
  • The child has been subjected to intentional and severe mental abuse.
  • Parental rights to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code § 16-2354

A petition shall be filed when the child has been in court-ordered custody for 15 of the most recent 22 months unless the following apply:

  • The child is being cared for by an approved kinship caregiver, and adoption is not the child's permanency plan.
  • There exists a compelling reason for determining that filing such a motion would not be in the best interests of the child.
  • The District has not offered or provided to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as are necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home, if reasonable efforts are required to be made with respect to the child.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.