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The Florida Senate

2005 Florida Statutes

Grounds for termination of parental rights.
Section 39.806, Florida Statutes 2005

39.806  Grounds for termination of parental rights.--

(1)  The department, the guardian ad litem, or any person who has knowledge of the facts alleged or who is informed of those facts and believes that they are true may petition for the termination of parental rights under any of the following circumstances:

(a)  When the parent or parents have voluntarily executed a written surrender of the child and consented to the entry of an order giving custody of the child to the department for subsequent adoption and the department is willing to accept custody of the child.

1.  The surrender document must be executed before two witnesses and a notary public or other person authorized to take acknowledgments.

2.  The surrender and consent may be withdrawn after acceptance by the department only after a finding by the court that the surrender and consent were obtained by fraud or under duress.

(b)  Abandonment as defined in s. 39.01(1) or when the identity or location of the parent or parents is unknown and cannot be ascertained by diligent search within 60 days.

(c)  When the parent or parents engaged in conduct toward the child or toward other children that demonstrates that the continuing involvement of the parent or parents in the parent-child relationship threatens the life, safety, well-being, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child irrespective of the provision of services. Provision of services may be evidenced by proof that services were provided through a previous plan or offered as a case plan from a child welfare agency.

(d)  When the parent of a child is incarcerated in a state or federal correctional institution and either:

1.  The period of time for which the parent is expected to be incarcerated will constitute a substantial portion of the period of time before the child will attain the age of 18 years;

2.  The incarcerated parent has been determined by the court to be a violent career criminal as defined in s. 775.084, a habitual violent felony offender as defined in s. 775.084, or a sexual predator as defined in s. 775.21; has been convicted of first degree or second degree murder in violation of s. 782.04 or a sexual battery that constitutes a capital, life, or first degree felony violation of s. 794.011; or has been convicted of an offense in another jurisdiction which is substantially similar to one of the offenses listed in this paragraph. As used in this section, the term "substantially similar offense" means any offense that is substantially similar in elements and penalties to one of those listed in this subparagraph, and that is in violation of a law of any other jurisdiction, whether that of another state, the District of Columbia, the United States or any possession or territory thereof, or any foreign jurisdiction; or

3.  The court determines by clear and convincing evidence that continuing the parental relationship with the incarcerated parent would be harmful to the child and, for this reason, that termination of the parental rights of the incarcerated parent is in the best interest of the child.

(e)  A petition for termination of parental rights may also be filed when a child has been adjudicated dependent, a case plan has been filed with the court, and the child continues to be abused, neglected, or abandoned by the parents. In this case, the failure of the parents to substantially comply for a period of 12 months after an adjudication of the child as a dependent child or the child's placement into shelter care, whichever came first, constitutes evidence of continuing abuse, neglect, or abandonment unless the failure to substantially comply with the case plan was due either to the lack of financial resources of the parents or to the failure of the department to make reasonable efforts to reunify the parent and child. Such 12-month period may begin to run only after the child's placement into shelter care or the entry of a disposition order placing the custody of the child with the department or a person other than the parent and the approval by the court of a case plan with a goal of reunification with the parent, whichever came first.

(f)  When the parent or parents engaged in egregious conduct or had the opportunity and capability to prevent and knowingly failed to prevent egregious conduct that threatens the life, safety, or physical, mental, or emotional health of the child or the child's sibling.

1.  As used in this subsection, the term "sibling" means another child who resides with or is cared for by the parent or parents regardless of whether the child is related legally or by consanguinity.

2.  As used in this subsection, the term "egregious conduct" means abuse, abandonment, neglect, or any other conduct of the parent or parents that is deplorable, flagrant, or outrageous by a normal standard of conduct. Egregious conduct may include an act or omission that occurred only once but was of such intensity, magnitude, or severity as to endanger the life of the child.

(g)  When the parent or parents have subjected the child to aggravated child abuse as defined in s. 827.03, sexual battery or sexual abuse as defined in s. 39.01, or chronic abuse.

(h)  When the parent or parents have committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child, or a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child, or aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter or felony assault.

(i)  When the parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily.

(2)  Reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families shall not be required if a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that any of the events described in paragraphs (1)(e)-(i) have occurred.

(3)  When a petition for termination of parental rights is filed under subsection (1), a separate petition for dependency need not be filed and the department need not offer the parents a case plan with a goal of reunification, but may instead file with the court a case plan with a goal of termination of parental rights to allow continuation of services until the termination is granted or until further orders of the court are issued.

(4)  When an expedited termination of parental rights petition is filed, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan, and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

History.--s. 9, ch. 87-289; s. 16, ch. 90-306; s. 4, ch. 90-309; s. 7, ch. 92-158; s. 35, ch. 94-164; s. 1, ch. 97-226; s. 12, ch. 97-276; s. 88, ch. 98-403; s. 2, ch. 98-417; s. 45, ch. 99-193; s. 35, ch. 2000-139; s. 3, ch. 2001-3; s. 12, ch. 2004-371.

Note.--Former s. 39.464.