Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights - Virgin Islands

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Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 5, § 2550

The court may terminate the parental rights and responsibilities of one or both parents if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the termination of the parent's rights is in the best interests of the child and that any of the following grounds exists:

  • The child has been abandoned by the parent.
  • There has been unwillingness or substantial noncompliance by the parent with the reasonable efforts of the Department of Human Services to achieve reunification.
  • The child has been removed from the home of the parent for more than 6 months, and the following apply:
    • The conditions that led to the child's removal that in all reasonable probability would cause the child to be subjected to further abuse or neglect still persist.
    • There is little likelihood that the conditions that led to the child's removal will be remedied within the next 18 months so that the child can be returned home safely in the near future.
    • For the purposes of this subsection, when the child has been in foster care or not in the physical custody of the parent for 15 of the most recent 22 months, a presumption exists that the conditions described above exist unless the parent can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that it is more likely than not that the child will be returned to the parent's physical custody within 6 months.
  • The parent has been convicted of aggravated child abuse or neglect, as defined in title 14, § 506, against the child who is the subject of the petition or against any sibling, half-sibling, or any other child residing temporarily or permanently in the home of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of the intentional and wrongful death of the child's other parent or legal guardian.
  • The parent is unable to discharge parental duties due to any of the following:
    • Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency
    • Habitual abuse or addiction to intoxicating liquors, narcotics, or other dangerous drugs
  • The parent has failed to manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child.
  • Placing custody of the child in the parent's legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical or psychological welfare of the child.
  • The parent has relinquished the parent's rights or consented to the child's adoption.

The department shall file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parent under any of the following circumstances:

  • The child has been in an out-of-home-placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months.
  • The parent has done any of the following:
    • Committed murder or manslaughter of any sibling or half-sibling of the child
    • Aided, abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such murder or a voluntary manslaughter
    • Committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or any sibling or half-sibling of the child
  • The court has made a finding that the parent has on two or more occasions abused or neglected any child.
  • Within 18 months after a child's return from an out-of-home placement, the child who is the subject of the petition is removed from the parent's custody and placed in care outside the home a second time.

Circumstances That Are Exceptions to Termination of Parental Rights

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 5, § 2550

The department may determine not to file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parent if one of the following exists:

  • The child is being cared for by a relative approved by the department.
  • The department has not made reasonable efforts to provide to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the department reunification plan, services that the department considers necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home.

The court may not terminate parental rights when the following applies:

  • The child is age 15 or older.
  • The child is sufficiently mature, as determined by the court, to have intelligent views and wishes on the subject of the parent's retention of parental rights.
  • The child objects to the termination.

Parental rights of a child who is age 15 or older may be terminated over the objection of the child if the court finds that any disability of the child reduces the child's developmental age and that the child is not otherwise competent to decide.

Circumstances Allowing Reinstatement of Parental Rights

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.