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(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)(A) This section shall be used only in cases in which the department is attempting to clear a juvenile for permanent placement by terminating the parental rights of a parent and putative parent based on the definition of “parent” and “putative father” under § 9-27-303.
(B) This section shall not be used to terminate the rights of a putative parent if a court of competent jurisdiction has previously determined under § 9-27-325 that the rights of the putative parent have not attached.
(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) 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 on whether it is in the best interest of the juvenile 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 serve the petition to terminate parental rights as required under Rule 5 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure, except:
(i) Service shall be made as required under Rule 4 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure if the:
(a) Parent was not served under Rule 4 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure at the initiation of the proceeding;
(b) Parent is not represented by an attorney; or
(c) Initiation of the proceeding was more than two (2) years ago; or
(ii) When the court orders service of the petition to terminate parental rights as required under Rule 4 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.
(B) 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) That a juvenile has been adjudicated by the court to be dependent-neglected and has continued out of the home of the noncustodial parent for twelve (12) months and, despite a meaningful effort by the department to rehabilitate the parent and correct the conditions that prevented the child from safely being placed in the parent's home, the conditions have not been remedied by the parent.
(c) 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 parent is not the biological parent of the juvenile and the welfare of the juvenile can best be served by terminating the parental rights of the parent;
(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 stepparent or stepparents.
(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 placement of the juvenile in 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 the placement of the juvenile in 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.
(d) Subdivision (b)(3)(B)(vii)(a) of this section does not apply if the factors or issues have not been adjudicated by the court or the parent is not provided with proper notice of the factors or issues;
(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;
(ix)(a) The parent is found by a court of competent jurisdiction, including the juvenile division of the 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 or is made by a judge that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification;
(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; or
(iii) A child or a sibling has been neglected or abused to the extent that the abuse or neglect could endanger the life of the child;
(4)(A) Have had his or her parental rights involuntarily terminated as to a child.
(B) It is an affirmative defense to the termination of parental rights based on a prior involuntary termination of parental rights that the parent has remedied the conditions that caused the prior involuntary termination of parental rights; or
(5) Have abandoned an infant, as defined in § 9-27-303.
(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; or
(x) A putative parent has not established paternity or significant contacts with his or her child after:
(a) Being named and served as a party in a dependency-neglect proceeding; or
(b) Receiving notice of a dependency-neglect proceeding under § 9-27-311 or § 9-27-325.
(c)(1) An order terminating the relationship between parent and juvenile:
(A) 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; and
(B)(i) Divests a putative parent and the juvenile of all rights, powers, and obligations with respect to the putative parent and the juvenile if the rights of the putative parent have attached under § 9-27-325(o) before or during the termination proceeding.
(ii) The divesting of all the rights, powers, and obligations of the putative parent and the juvenile shall be based on the same authority, requirements, limitations, and other provisions that apply to the termination of the rights of a parent, including without limitation the provision requiring the dismissal of a putative parent as a party to a case without further notice to the putative parent.
(2)(A) Termination of the relationship between a juvenile and one parent shall not affect the relationship between the juvenile and the other parent if those rights are legally established.
(B) A court may terminate the rights of one parent and not the other parent if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child.
(3) An order terminating parental rights under this section:
(A) May authorize the department to consent to adoption of the juvenile; and
(B) Dismisses the parent or putative parent subject to the termination of parental rights as a party to the case without further notice to the parent or putative parent required.
(d)(1) 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.
(2)(A) The court may continue a termination of parental rights hearing for up to one hundred eighty (180) days from the date the petition for termination of parental rights is filed in extraordinary circumstances.
(B) As used in this subdivision (d)(2), “extraordinary circumstances” includes without limitation the following circumstances:
(i) The Supreme Court orders the suspension of in-person court proceedings; and
(ii) One (1) of the following has occurred:
(a) The President of the United States has declared a national emergency; or
(b) The Governor has declared a state of emergency or a statewide public health emergency.
(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.
(h) Upon the entry of an order terminating parental rights the:
(1) Department is relieved of all responsibility for providing reunification services to the parent whose parental rights are terminated;
(2) Appointed parent counsel is relieved of his or her representation of the parent whose parental rights are terminated except as provided under Rules 6-9 and 6-10 of the Rules of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals of the State of Arkansas;
(3) Appointed parent counsel shall be reappointed to represent a parent who successfully appeals the termination of his or her parental rights if the parent is indigent; and
(4) Parent whose parental rights are terminated is not entitled to:
(A) Notice of any court proceeding concerning the juvenile; and
(B) An opportunity to be heard in any court proceeding concerning the juvenile.
Cite this article: FindLaw.com - Arkansas Code Title 9. Family Law § 9-27-341. Termination of parental rights - last updated January 01, 2020 | https://codes.findlaw.com/ar/title-9-family-law/ar-code-sect-9-27-341/
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