Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - North Dakota

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Cent. Code §§ 27-20.3-18; 27-20.3-20; 27-20.3-01

Reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home or to make it possible for a child to return safely to the child's home are not required if either of the following applies:

  • A court of competent jurisdiction has determined a parent has subjected a child to aggravated circumstances.
  • The parental rights of the parent with respect to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

The court may terminate the parental rights of a parent with respect to the parent's child if any of the following is true:

  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The child is subjected to aggravated circumstances.
  • The child is in need of protection and the court finds that either of the following applies:
    • The conditions and causes of the need for protection are likely to continue or will not be remedied and for that reason the child is suffering or will probably suffer serious physical, mental, moral, or emotional harm.
    • The child has been in foster care, in the care, custody, and control of the Department of Human Services for at least 450 out of the previous 660 nights.
  • The written consent of the parent acknowledged before the court has been given.
  • The parent has pled guilty or nolo contendere to or has been found guilty of engaging in a sexual act, the sexual act led to the birth of the parent's child, and termination of the parental rights of the parent is in the best interests of the child.

Aggravated circumstances' means circumstances in which a parent does any of the following:

  • Abandons, tortures, chronically abuses, or sexually abuses a child
  • Fails to make substantial, meaningful efforts to secure treatment for the parent's addiction, mental illness, behavior disorder, or any combination of those conditions for 1 year
  • Commits a sexual offense in which a child is the victim or intended victim
  • Engages in conduct that constitutes one of the following crimes:
    • Murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, or abuse of a child in which the victim is another child of the parent
    • Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting a violation of murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide in which the victim is a child of the parent
    • Aggravated assault in which the victim is a child of the parent and has suffered serious bodily injury
  • Engages or attempts to engage in assault, domestic violence, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and terrorizing, in which a child is the victim or intended victim
  • In the case of a child who is age 9 or older, has been incarcerated under a sentence for which the latest release date is after the child's age of majority
  • Subjects the child to prenatal exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or any controlled substance in a manner not lawfully prescribed by a practitioner
  • Allows the child to be present in an environment subjecting the child to exposure to a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20.3-21

A petition for termination of parental rights need not be filed if the following apply:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative approved by the department.
  • The department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the child's best interests and has notified the court that the documentation is available for review by the court.
  • The department has determined the following:
    • Reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family are required to be made with respect to the child.
    • The case plan provides such services are necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home.
    • Such services have not been provided consistent with time periods described in the case plan.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.