Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Pennsylvania

The following are grounds for the termination of parental rights specifically for the state of Pennsylvania.

Statute: 25 Pa. §§ 2501(a); 2511(a),(b)
42 Pa. § 6302 

Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination

Abuse/Neglect

Failure of Reasonable Efforts

Abuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child

Sexual Abuse

Failure to Maintain Contact

Failure to Provide Support

Failure to Establish Paternity

Child’s Best Interest

Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)

Felony assault of child or sibling

Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child

Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination

Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest

Mental Illness or Deficiency

Alcohol or Drug-Induced Incapacity

Felony Conviction/Incarceration

Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent

Full Text of Statute

23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2501(a) (West 1991)

When any child under the age of 18 years has been in the care of any agency for a minimum period of three days or, whether or not the agency has the physical care of the child, the agency has received written notice of the present intent to transfer to it custody of the child, executed by the parent, the parent or parents of the child may petition the court for permission to relinquish forever all parental rights and duties concerning their child.

23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2511(a), (b) (West Supp. 1998)

The rights of a parent regarding a child may be terminated after a petition filed on any of the following grounds:

The parent by conduct continuing for a period of at least 6 months immediately preceding the filing of the petition either has evidenced a
settled purpose of relinquishing parental claim
to a child or has refused or failed to perform
parental duties;

The repeated and continued incapacity, abuse,
neglect or refusal of the parent has caused the
child to be without essential parental care,
control or subsistence necessary for his physical
or mental well-being and the conditions or causes
of the incapacity, abuse, neglect, or refusal
cannot or will not be remedied by the parent;

The parent is presumptive but not the natural
father of the child;

The child is in the custody of an agency, having
been found in such circumstances that the
identity or whereabouts of the parent is unknown
and cannot be ascertained by diligent search and
the parent does not claim the child within 3
months after the child is found;

The child has been removed from the care of the
parent by the court or under a voluntary
agreement with an agency for a period of at least
6 months, the conditions which led to the removal
or placement of the child continues to exist, the
a parent cannot or will not remedy those conditions
within a reasonable period of time, the services
or assistance reasonably available to the parent
are not likely to remedy the conditions which led
to the removal or placement of the child within a
a reasonable period of time and termination of the
parental rights would best serve the needs and
the welfare of the child;

In the case of a newborn child, the parent knows
or has reason to know of the child’s birth, does
not reside with the child, has not married the
child’s other parent has failed for a period of
4 months immediately preceding the filing of the
petition to make reasonable efforts to maintain
substantial and continuing contact with the child
and has failed during the 4-month period to
provide substantial financial support;

The parent is the father of a child conceived as
a result of rape or incest;

The child has been removed from the care of the
parent by the court or under a voluntary
agreement with an agency, 12 months or more have
elapsed from the date of removal or placement,
the conditions which led to the removal or
placement of the child continues to exist and
termination of parental rights would best serve
the needs and welfare of the child.

The court, in terminating the rights of a parent,
shall give primary consideration to the
developmental, physical, and emotional needs and
the welfare of the child. The rights of a parent
shall not be terminated solely based on
environmental factors such as inadequate housing,
furnishings, income, clothing, and medical care if
found to be beyond the control of the parent.
Concerning any petition filed under
the provisions listed above, the court shall not
consider any efforts by the parent to remedy
conditions described therein which are first
initiated after the giving of notice of
filing the petition.

42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6302 (West, WESTLAW 
through End of 2000 Reg. Sess.)

‘Aggravated circumstances’ means any of the following circumstances:

The child is in the custody of a county agency and either the identity or whereabouts of the
parents are unknown and cannot be ascertained and
the parent does not claim the child within 3
months of the date the child was taken into
custody; or the identity or whereabouts of the
parents are known and the parents have failed to
maintain substantial and continuing contact with
the child for a period of 6 months;

The child or another child of the parent has been
the victim of physical abuse resulting in serious
bodily injury, sexual violence, or aggravated
physical neglect by the parent;

The parent of the child has been convicted of any
of the following offenses where the victim was a
child: criminal homicide; a felony under laws
relating to aggravated assault, rape, statutory
sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual
intercourse, sexual assault, or aggravated
indecent assault; a misdemeanor under the law
relating to indecent assault; an equivalent crime
in another jurisdiction; the attempt,
solicitation or conspiracy to commit any of the
offenses listed above;

The parental rights of the parent have been
involuntarily terminated concerning a child
of the parent.

‘Aggravated physical neglect’ means any omission in the care of a child that results in a life-threatening condition or seriously impairs the child’s functioning.