Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Missouri

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 211.447

A petition to terminate parental rights shall be filed when the following apply:

  • The child has been in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • A court has determined the child to be an abandoned child.
  • The parent has voluntarily relinquished a child under § 210.950.
  • The parent has done any of the following:
    • Committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent
    • Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter
    • Committed a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent
  • The parent has been found guilty of or pled guilty to a felony violation of chapter 566 (sexual offenses), 567 (prostitution), 568 (an offense against the family, including incest, child abandonment, child endangerment, or trafficking of a child), or 573 (pornography) when the child or any child was a victim.
  • The parent has abused or neglected the child, based on any of the following:
    • A mental condition or chemical dependency that renders the parent unable to care for the child
    • Chemical dependency that prevents the parent from consistently providing the necessary care, custody, and control of the child and that cannot be treated so as to enable the parent to consistently provide such care, custody, and control
    • A severe act or recurrent acts of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse toward the child or any child in the family, including an act of incest
    • Repeated or continuous failure by the parent, although physically or financially able, to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or education
  • The child has been in out-of-home care for 1 year, and the parent has failed to comply with the terms of a case plan designed to reunify the parent with the child.
  • The child was conceived and born as a result of an act of forcible rape or rape in the first degree by a biological parent.
  • The parent is unfit to be a party to the parent-and-child relationship because of a consistent pattern of committing a specific abuse, including, but not limited to, specific conditions directly relating to the parent and child relationship that are determined by the court to be of a duration or nature that renders the parent unable for the reasonably foreseeable future to care appropriately for the ongoing physical, mental, or emotional needs of the child.

It is presumed that a parent is unfit upon a showing the following:

  • Within the previous 3 years, the parent's parental rights to one or more other children were involuntarily terminated.
  • The birth mother within 8 hours after the child's birth tested positive for blood-alcohol content of over .08 or tested positive for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, a controlled substance, or a prescription drug (except for a drug prescribed for medical treatment), and the birth mother has at least one other child who was found to be exposed to substances or has previously failed to complete recommended treatment services.
  • Within the previous 3 years, the parent has pled guilty to or has been convicted of a felony involving the possession, distribution, or manufacture of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, and the parent has at least one other child who was found to be abused or neglected or has previously failed to complete recommended treatment services.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 211.447

Even when grounds exist for termination of parental rights, the juvenile officer or the Children's Division is not required to file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parent or parents if any of the following apply:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative.
  • There exists a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interests of the child, as documented in the permanency plan.
  • The family of the child has not been provided the services required for making reasonable efforts to preserve the family.

The disability or disease of a parent shall not constitute a basis for a determination that a child is a child in need of care, for the removal of custody of a child from the parent, or for the termination of parental rights without a specific showing that there is a causal relation between the disability or disease and harm to the child.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.