2010 Arkansas Code
9-27-341. Termination of parental rights.
Title 9 - Family Law
Subtitle 3 - Minors
Chapter 27 - Juvenile Courts And Proceedings
Subchapter 3 - Arkansas Juvenile Code
§ 9-27-341 - Termination of parental rights.
(a) (1) (A) This section shall be a remedy available only to the Department of Human Services or a court-appointed attorney ad litem.
(B) This section shall not be available for private litigants or other agencies.
(2) This section shall be used only in cases in which the department is attempting to clear a juvenile for permanent placement.
(3) The intent of this section is to provide permanency in a juvenile's life in all instances in which the return of a juvenile to the family home is contrary to the juvenile's health, safety, or welfare and it appears from the evidence that a return to the family home cannot be accomplished in a reasonable period of time as viewed from the juvenile's perspective.
(4) (A) A parent's resumption of contact or overtures toward participating in the case plan or following the orders of the court following the permanency planning hearing and preceding the termination of parental rights hearing is an insufficient reason to not terminate parental rights.
(B) The court shall rely upon the record of the parent's compliance in the entire dependency-neglect case and evidence presented at the termination hearing in making its decision whether it is in the juvenile's best interest to terminate parental rights.
(b) (1) (A) The circuit court may consider a petition to terminate parental rights if the court finds that there is an appropriate permanency placement plan for the juvenile.
(B) This section does not require that a permanency planning hearing be held as a prerequisite to the filing of a petition to terminate parental rights or as a prerequisite to the court's considering a petition to terminate parental rights.
(2) (A) The petitioner shall provide the parent, parents, or putative parent or parents actual or constructive notice of a petition to terminate parental rights.
(B) In addition to providing constructive notice of the hearing to terminate parental rights, the petitioner shall check with the Putative Father Registry if the name or whereabouts of the putative father is unknown.
(3) An order forever terminating parental rights shall be based upon a finding by clear and convincing evidence:
(A) That it is in the best interest of the juvenile, including consideration of the following factors:
(i) The likelihood that the juvenile will be adopted if the termination petition is granted; and
(ii) The potential harm, specifically addressing the effect on the health and safety of the child, caused by returning the child to the custody of the parent, parents, or putative parent or parents; and
(B) Of one (1) or more of the following grounds:
(i) (a) That a juvenile has been adjudicated by the court to be dependent-neglected and has continued to be out of the custody of the parent for twelve (12) months and, despite a meaningful effort by the department to rehabilitate the parent and correct the conditions that caused removal, those conditions have not been remedied by the parent.
(b) It is not necessary that the twelve-month period referenced in subdivision (b)(3)(B)(i)(a) of this section immediately precede the filing of the petition for termination of parental rights or that it be for twelve (12) consecutive months;
(ii) (a) The juvenile has lived outside the home of the parent for a period of twelve (12) months, and the parent has willfully failed to provide significant material support in accordance with the parent's means or to maintain meaningful contact with the juvenile.
(b) To find willful failure to maintain meaningful contact, it must be shown that the parent was not prevented from visiting or having contact with the juvenile by the juvenile's custodian or any other person, taking into consideration the distance of the juvenile's placement from the parent's home.
(c) Material support consists of either financial contributions or food, shelter, clothing, or other necessities when the contribution has been requested by the juvenile's custodian or ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(d) It is not necessary that the twelve-month period referenced in subdivision (b)(3)(B)(ii)(a) of this section immediately precede the filing of the petition for termination of parental rights or that it be for twelve (12) consecutive months;
(iii) The presumptive legal father is not the biological father of the juvenile and the welfare of the juvenile can best be served by terminating the parental rights of the presumptive legal father;
(iv) A parent has abandoned the juvenile;
(v) (a) A parent has executed consent to termination of parental rights or adoption of the juvenile, subject to the court's approval.
(b) If the consent is executed under oath by a person authorized to administer the oath, the parent is not required to execute the consent in the presence of the court unless required by federal law or federal regulations;
(vi) (a) The court has found the juvenile or a sibling dependent-neglected as a result of neglect or abuse that could endanger the life of the child, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation, any of which was perpetrated by the juvenile's parent or parents or step-parent or step-parents.
(b) Such findings by the juvenile division of circuit court shall constitute grounds for immediate termination of the parental rights of one (1) or both of the parents;
(vii) (a) That other factors or issues arose subsequent to the filing of the original petition for dependency-neglect that demonstrate that return of the juvenile to the custody of the parent is contrary to the juvenile's health, safety, or welfare and that, despite the offer of appropriate family services, the parent has manifested the incapacity or indifference to remedy the subsequent issues or factors or rehabilitate the parent's circumstances that prevent return of the juvenile to the custody of the parent.
(b) The department shall make reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., to parents with disabilities in order to allow them meaningful access to reunification and family preservation services.
(c) For purposes of this subdivision (b)(3)(B)(vii), the inability or incapacity to remedy or rehabilitate includes, but is not limited to, mental illness, emotional illness, or mental deficiencies;
(viii) The parent is sentenced in a criminal proceeding for a period of time that would constitute a substantial period of the juvenile's life; or
(ix) (a) The parent is found by a court of competent jurisdiction, including the juvenile division of circuit court, to:
(1) Have committed murder or manslaughter of any juvenile or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit the murder or manslaughter;
(2) Have committed a felony battery that results in serious bodily injury to any juvenile or to have aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit felony battery that results in serious bodily injury to any juvenile;
(3) (A) Have subjected any juvenile to aggravated circumstances.
(B) "Aggravated circumstances" means:
(i) A juvenile has been abandoned, chronically abused, subjected to extreme or repeated cruelty, sexually abused, or a determination has been made by a judge that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification; or
(ii) A juvenile has been removed from the custody of the parent or guardian and placed in foster care or in the custody of another person three (3) or more times in the last fifteen (15) months;
(4) Have had his or her parental rights involuntarily terminated as to a sibling of the child; or
(5) Have abandoned an infant, as defined at 9-27-303(2).
(b) This subchapter does not require reunification of a surviving child with a parent who has been found guilty of any of the offenses listed in subdivision (b)(3)(B)(ix)(a) of this section.
(c) (1) An order terminating the relationship between parent and juvenile divests the parent and the juvenile of all legal rights, powers, and obligations with respect to each other, including the right to withhold consent to adoption, except the right of the juvenile to inherit from the parent, that is terminated only by a final order of adoption.
(2) (A) (i) Termination of the relationship between a juvenile and one (1) parent shall not affect the relationship between the juvenile and the other parent if those rights are legally established.
(ii) If no legal rights have been established, a putative parent must prove that significant contacts existed with the juvenile in order for the putative parent's rights to attach.
(B) (i) When the petitioner has actual knowledge that an individual is claiming to be or is named as the putative parent of the juvenile and the paternity of the juvenile has not been judicially determined, the individual is entitled to notice of the petition to terminate parental rights.
(ii) The notice shall identify the rights sought to be terminated and those that may be terminated.
(iii) The notice shall further specify that the putative parent must prove that significant contacts existed with the juvenile for the putative parent's rights to attach.
(3) An order terminating parental rights under this section may authorize the department to consent to adoption of the juvenile.
(d) The court shall conduct and complete a termination of parental rights hearing within ninety (90) days from the date the petition for termination of parental rights is filed unless continued for good cause as articulated in the written order of the court.
(e) A written order shall be filed by the court or by a party or party's counsel as designated by the court within thirty (30) days of the date of the termination hearing or before the next hearing, whichever is sooner.
(f) After the termination of parental rights hearing, the court shall review the case at least every six (6) months, and a permanency planning hearing shall be held each year following the initial permanency hearing until permanency is achieved for that juvenile.
(g) (1) (A) A parent may withdraw consent to termination of parental rights within ten (10) calendar days after it was signed by filing an affidavit with the circuit clerk in the county designated by the consent as the county in which the termination of parental rights will be filed.
(B) If the ten-day period ends on a weekend or legal holiday, the person may file the affidavit the next working day.
(C) No fee shall be charged for the filing of the affidavit.
(2) The consent to terminate parental rights shall state that the person has the right of withdrawal of consent and shall provide the address of the circuit clerk of the county in which the termination of parental rights will be filed.
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