Lagniappe (aka Blog)


Each State Terminates Parental Rights Differently

Posted by Elise Buie | May 03, 2016 | 0 Comments

The Associated Press recently highlighted the varied standards and outcomes nationwide for termination of parental rights.[1] According to the data provided there from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington State in 2014 had 10,630 children in out-of-home care, with 1,733 of those having a termination of parental rights. That percentage (~16.3%) is essentially the same as the nationwide average (~15.5%, with 64,398 of the 415,129 total children in out-home-care having termination of parental rights). States vary from 3.5% in Maryland to 30% in Texas. Washington's standards for the filing of termination petitions is found in RCW 13.34.180.

One of the many causes of these disparities is the amount of funding states make available for services that help keep families together, such as “quality child-care programs, mental health care and drug treatment programs.” Additionally, some feel there is a “culture of bias” against a biological parent once a termination proceeding is initiated. Such biases presumably vary widely depending on the political makeup and culture of each state.

Balancing a parent's fundamental rights with a child's need to a safe, stable and nurturing permanent environment is a hugely complex issue, and it's clear states have struck that balance in much different ways despite federal guidelines that aim to provide some degree of uniformity.

[1] [Crary, David. "Terminating Parental Rights: State Policies Vary Widely." N.p., 30 Apr. 2016. Web.]

About the Author

Elise Buie

Passionate, creative, problem-solving attorney who crafts solutions rather than obstacles. Elise spends significant time educating her clients on healthy communication skills. Elise also ensures that her clients make informed decisions by understanding the future emotional and financial implications of their decisions. Your family's future is our first priority. Elise teaches her clients new skills to empower them in the future as they adjust to the new family structure. While divorce ends a marriage, it is the beginning of your new, often times, more authentic life. Elise will help you begin that new life with new skills to handle any future challenges.


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