Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Puerto Rico

Date: July 2021

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 31, § 634a-1

The grounds, whether by action or inaction, for terminating, restricting, or suspending parental rights to a child are the following:

  • To cause or place the physical, mental, emotional, and moral health of the minor at increased risk of predictable harm
  • To allow or tolerate another person to harm the child
  • To fail to adequately provide sustenance, clothing, shelter, education, or health care, according to his or her means
  • To fail to perform his or her duty to supervise and care for the minor, as follows:
    • If, having the capacity and the means to do so, he or she has not assumed custody and care of the minor in his or her own home.
    • He or she has failed to provide a reasonable amount for the support of the minor according to his or her financial means.
    • He or she has failed to regularly visit the minor or to maintain continuing contact or communication with the minor.
  • To voluntarily abandon of the minor, without good cause
  • To exploit the minor by coercing him to engage in any act for profit or any other benefit
  • To fail to comply with the service plan to return a minor to his or her home
  • To engage in conduct that, if criminally prosecuted, would constitute any of crimes listed below:
    • Child abuse and neglect
    • Murder, homicide, or negligent homicide and their attempts
    • Offenses against bodily integrity
    • Failure to pay child support obligations
    • Child abandonment
    • Child kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping
    • Unlawful deprivation of custody
    • Adoption in exchange for money
    • Corruption of minors
    • Enticing a child through the use of the internet or other electronic means
    • Sexual assault, incest, lascivious acts, or indecent exposure
    • Proxenetism (facilitation of a commercial sex act), pandering, and aggravated human trafficking
    • Obscenity and child pornography
    • Aggravated deprivation of liberty
    • Abuse, aggravated abuse, abuse by threat, abuse by deprivation of liberty, and sexual assault within an intimate relationship

Abandonment shall be presumed to occur when the minor is found under circumstances that the identity of his or her parents cannot be ascertained or when the parents' identities are known but their whereabouts are unknown despite diligent search and the parents have not come forward to claim the minor within 30 days after being located.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Laws Tit. 31, §§ 634a-1; 634b

No person may be deprived of patria potestas for the legitimate practice of religious beliefs.

The court shall deprive a father or a mother of patria potestas, at the request of a party if either the father or the mother, as the case may be, suffers a disease or a mental or emotional defect or condition, or alcoholism, or addiction to controlled substances, or if they display conduct that makes them incapable of, or prevents them from providing supervision, and physical, mental, and emotional care to the minor. An exception can be made when it is positively shown that the above conditions can be attended to within a reasonably short period of time. In order to determine what a reasonable period of time is, the court shall take into consideration the condition involved, the age of the minor and of the father and the mother, and the circumstances, as a whole, that prevail in the home to which the child shall return, should the father or the mother not be deprived of patria potestas.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.