Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

By: Lisa Vari on G+

Our Allegheny County family lawyers provide you with some information about a case regarding termination of parental rights. The case, decided by the Superior Court decided, In Re: F.K., outlined the requirements for an involuntary termination of parental rights and subsequent adoption. In this case, F.K. is a young boy from a troubled household, whose mother is unable to hold down a job, maintain a place to live, or stay off of drugs, so the child was put into the foster care system.

For the first year, Mother came to permanency hearings and complied with requirements set out in her Family Services Plan. Starting in late 2010, Mother stopped regularly attending visitation and stopped complying with the terms of her FSP, which were not burdensome, relating mainly to finding a job and housing. Finally, with continuing non-compliance the Philadelphia Department of Human Services filed for a termination of parental rights. The termination, by a standard of clear and convincing evidence, was allowed by the Court, and foster mother appealed.

F.K.'s foster mother was willing to adopt him, and F.K. appeared to be extremely comfortable and happy when with her. She was able to provide a stable home, and they appeared to have an extremely close relationship. The Foster Mother also enrolled F.K. in school, and F.K. got along very well with Foster Mother's other child, who was also adopted.

In Pennsylvania, involuntary termination of parental rights is governed by 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. 2511 (a) and (b). Because termination of parental rights is a drastic action for a court take (because of the primacy of the familial relationship and the general reluctance of a court to separate parent and child), both prongs of the test have to be met. The first prong requires that in the 6 months preceding the termination hearing, the parent had displayed a purpose to relinquish their parental rights, or an inability to perform their parental duties. The Court will look at the reasons for the inability, the amount of contact between parent and child, and the effect of termination on the child. Then, the Court applies the second prong, and must again prove that termination is in the best interest of the child's development.

Looking at all of the facts, the Court upheld the termination, looking particularly at the Mother's repeated unwillingness to comply with any of the efforts to help her. Mother was offered apartments, parenting classes, and job assistance, all of which she failed to continue. Ultimately, the Superior Court agreed with the trial court that in light of the mother's inability or unwillingness to make the necessary changes to maintain the relationship with her child, and the positive relationship between the foster mother and the child, it would be in the child's best interest to terminate the parental relationship.

If you are a foster parent or someone that is interested in adopting a child, contact our experienced family law attorneys today. We will discuss your case with you and provide you with information and guidance necessary to help you throughout your case.

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