Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - New Jersey

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 30:4C-11.3; 30:4C-15; 30:4C-15.1

A petition to terminate parental rights shall be filed when there is evidence of one or more of the following:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of abuse, abandonment, neglect of, or cruelty to his or her child.
  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances of abuse, neglect, cruelty, or abandonment.
  • Reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the parent have been provided for 1 year, and the parent has failed to remedy the conditions that led to the child's out-of-home placement.
  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following:
    • Murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of another child of the parent
    • Aiding, abetting, attempting, or soliciting to commit the above murder, aggravated manslaughter, or manslaughter of the child or another child of the parent
    • Committing or attempting to commit an assault or similarly serious criminal act that resulted, or could have resulted, in the death or significant bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent
  • Parental rights to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

The Division of Child Protection and Permanency shall initiate a petition to terminate parental rights on the grounds of the 'best interests of the child' if the following standards are met:

  • The child's safety, health, or development has been or will continue to be endangered by the parental relationship.
  • The parent is unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child or is unable or unwilling to provide a safe and stable home for the child and the delay of permanent placement will add to the harm.
  • The division has made reasonable efforts to provide services to help the parent correct the circumstances that led to the child's placement outside the home, and the court has considered alternatives to termination of parental rights.
  • Termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.

The division shall initiate a petition to terminate parental rights on the ground that the 'parent has abandoned the child' if the following standards are met:

  • A court finds that for 6 or more months the following has occurred:
    • The parent, although able to have contact, has had no contact with the child, the child's resource family parent, or the division.
    • The parent's whereabouts are unknown, notwithstanding the division's reasonable efforts to locate the parent.
  • The identities of the parents are unknown and the division has exhausted all reasonable methods of attempting identification.
  • The parent voluntarily delivered the child to and left the child with an adult employee, or voluntarily arranged for another person to deliver the child, at a State, county, or municipal police station; a fire station of a municipal, county, fire district, or volunteer fire department; the premises of a public or private ambulance, first aid, or rescue squad; or an emergency department of a licensed general hospital when the child is or appears to be no more than 30 days old, without expressing an intent to return for the child.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 30:4C-15; 30:4C-15.3

A petition shall be filed as soon as any one of the circumstances listed above is established, but no later than when the child has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months unless the division establishes an exception to the requirement to seek termination of parental rights.

The division shall not be required to file a petition seeking the termination of parental rights if the following apply:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative, and a permanency plan for the child can be achieved without termination of parental rights.
  • The division has documented in the case plan, which shall be available for court review, a compelling reason for determining that filing the petition would not be in the best interests of the child.
  • The division is required to provide reasonable efforts to reunify the family but has not provided to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as the division deems necessary for the safe return of the child to his or her home.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.