Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Maine

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4055

The court may order termination of parental rights if the court finds, based on clear and convincing evidence, that termination is in the best interests of the child, and any of the following apply:

  • The parent is unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy, and these circumstances are unlikely to change within a reasonable time.
  • The parent has been unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the child within a time that is reasonably calculated to meet the child's needs.
  • The child has been abandoned.
  • The parent has failed to make a good-faith effort to rehabilitate and reunify with the child.

The court may presume that the parent is unwilling or unable to protect the child from jeopardy and these circumstances are unlikely to change within a time which is reasonably calculated to meet the child€™s needs if any of the following apply:

  • The parent has acted toward a child in a manner that is heinous or abhorrent to society or has failed to protect a child in a manner that is heinous or abhorrent to society, without regard to the intent of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following, and the victim was a child for whom the parent was responsible, or the victim was a child who was a member of a household lived in or frequented by the parent:
    • Murder, felony murder, or manslaughter
    • Aiding or soliciting suicide or aggravated assault
    • Rape, gross sexual misconduct or gross sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, or incest
    • Kidnapping
    • Promotion of prostitution, sexual exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking, or aggravated sex trafficking
  • The child has been placed in the legal custody or care of the Department of Health and Human Services, the parent has a chronic substance abuse problem, and the parent's prognosis indicates that the child will not be able to return to the custody of the parent within a reasonable period of time.
  • The child has been placed in the legal custody or care of the department, the court has previously terminated parental rights to another child who is a member of the same family, the parent continues to lack the ability or willingness to show the court that the parent has sought services that would rehabilitate the parent or the parent cannot show evidence that an additional period of services would result in reunification in a time reasonably calculated to meet the needs of the child and the child's need for a permanent home.
  • The child has been placed in the legal custody or care of the department for at least 9 months, and the parent has been offered or received services to correct the situation but has refused or made no significant effort to correct the situation.
  • The child was conceived as a result of an act by the parent of sexual assault or a comparable crime in another jurisdiction.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4055

In deciding to terminate parental rights, the court shall consider the best interests of the child, the needs of the child, including the child's age, the child's attachments to relevant persons, periods of attachments and separation, the child's ability to integrate into a substitute placement or back into the parent's home, and the child's physical and emotional needs.

The court shall consider the wishes of a child, in a manner appropriate to the age of the child, in making an order under this section.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4059

The department may petition the court to reinstate the parental rights of a parent whose parental rights have been terminated. The petition must state the following:

  • The reasons for the termination
  • A substantial change in circumstances of the parent that demonstrate the parent has the capacity and willingness to parent the child
  • The parent's consent to the reinstatement
  • The willingness of the child for the reinstatement

The petition must be accompanied by a permanency plan that provides for the health and safety of the child and outlines the transition services to the family and the supervision required by the department for placing the child in the home on a trial basis.

Upon the filing of a petition, the court shall hold a case-management conference to review the permanency plan filed by the department. The court may order reinstatement of parental rights if it finds, by clear and convincing evidence, the following:

  • The child has been in the custody of the department for at least 12 months after parental rights have been terminated.
  • The child has lived for at least 3 months in the home of the parent after the petition for reinstatement has been filed.
  • The parent consents to the reinstatement of parental rights.
  • If the child is age 12 or older, the child consents to the reinstatement of parental rights.
  • Reinstatement of parental rights is in the best interests of the child.

In determining whether to reinstate parental rights, the court shall consider the age and maturity of the child, the child's ability to express a preference, the child's ability to integrate back into the home of the parent whose rights were terminated, the ability of the parent whose rights were terminated to meet the child's physical and emotional needs, the extent that the parent whose rights were terminated has remedied the circumstances that resulted in the termination of parental rights, and the likelihood of future risk to the child.