There are eight grounds for a termination of parental rights in Connecticut. The three most common are:
1. Abandonment. This occurs when a parent has abandoned the child by failing to maintain a reasonable degree of interest, concern or responsibility as to the welfare of their child.
2. Failure to rehabilitate. Rehabilitation refers to whether or not the parent has sufficiently addressed certain issues (i.e. substance abuse, mental health) so that they now have the ability to adequately meet the needs of their child. If the parent cannot currently do so, then the court must decide whether the parent’s rehabilitation is foreseeable within a reasonable time.
3. No ongoing parent-child relationship. The court is required to determine whether there is a parent-child relationship and, if not, whether it would be detrimental to the child’s best interests to permit additional time for the development of such a relationship. This ground usually requires expert testimony from a psychologist or other mental health professional.
Some additional information about the termination of parental rights in Connecticut:
Terminating the parental rights of both parents must occur before a child is free to be adopted.
Termination of parental rights may be decided in Probate Court or Juvenile Court. If DCF files, the case will be heard in Juvenile Court. When a parent or a third party such as a relative files the Termination Petition, the case will start in Probate Court but under certain circumstances may be moved or appealed to Juvenile Court.
Even if grounds exist to terminate parental rights, the Probate Court must also independently find that the termination is in the best interest of the child. This is not an automatic particularly with older children who do not wish to be adopted or if the child is financially dependent on a parent’s support.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss a termination of parental rights in Connecticut.