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When Can Rhode Island Court’s Terminate Parental Rights?

For the most part, the government stays out of how parents raise their children. In fact, the United States Supreme Court has held that “parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody and management” of their children, and that a parent’s rights will not “evaporate” merely because they are not model parents or because they have lost temporary custody of their children. However, at some point, when the state government believes that children are being neglected, abused, or otherwise in danger, the state will intervene.

In order for the state to terminate parental rights, they must establish one of the facts outlined in Rhode Island Statutes section 15-7-7. The list of reasons for which the state can terminate a parent’s rights is not limited by those laid out in section 15-7-7. Instead, the statute provides examples of situations where termination may be appropriate. For example, if a parent is found to have willfully neglected the needs of a child for at least one year despite being financially able to meet them, the state may move to terminate parental rights. Other examples include:

  • a parent’s long-term imprisonment;
  • a parent’s abusive conduct toward a child;
  • the child’s placement with the department for children, youth, and families for 12 months due to a parent’s substance abuse issue, when it does not appear as though the child will be able to return to the parent within a reasonable amount of time; or
  • when a parent’s other child or children have been placed in the custody of the department for children, youth and families, and it does not appear that providing additional services to the parent will result in reunification within a reasonable amount of time.

Importantly, in order to terminate parental rights, the state must prove the above facts by clear and convincing evidence.

Defenses to the Termination of Parental Rights

As noted above, Rhode Island courts are not quick to terminate a parent’s rights. And even if termination proceedings have begun, that does not mean that the court will end up terminating someone’s parental rights. In most cases, parents who have termination proceedings filed against them have every intention of being good parents to their children, but have faced insurmountable hurdles in life. With the assistance of a dedicated Rhode Island family law attorney, parents may be able to effectively advocate for their parental rights by providing rational explanations for the unfortunate situations they have had to face.

Are You Facing the Termination of Your Parental Rights?

If you are currently facing the termination of your parental rights, contact the dedicated Rhode Island family law attorneys at the law firm of Bilodeau Capalbo. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we proudly represent clients who are struggling to maintain their parental rights. We have extensive experience handling termination hearings, and all other aspects of Rhode Island family law. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 401-300-4055 to schedule a free consultation today.

See Related Posts:

Common Law Marriage in Rhode Island, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2018.

Rhode Island Intestate Laws and the Importance of Drafting a Will, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 28, 2018.

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