1998 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Dearing
Senate Bill 2162
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 93-15-103, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS OR ADOPTION SHALL INCLUDE ABANDONMENT OF THE CHILD, REGARDLESS OF AGE, BY THE NATURAL PARENT FOR A PERIOD OF 6 MONTHS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 93-15-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
93-15-103. (1) When a child has been removed from the home of its natural parents and cannot be returned to the home of his natural parents within a reasonable length of time because returning to the home would be damaging to the child or the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the child, and when adoption is in the best interest of the child, taking into account whether the adoption is needed to secure a stable placement for the child and the strength of the child's bonds to his natural parents and the effect of future contacts between them, the grounds listed in subsections (2) and (3) of this section shall be considered as grounds for the termination of parental rights. The grounds may apply singly or in combination in any given case.
(2) The rights of a parent with reference to a child, including parental rights to control or withhold consent to an adoption, and the right to receive notice of a hearing on a petition for adoption, may be relinquished and the relationship of the parent and child terminated by the execution of a written voluntary release, signed by the parent, regardless of the age of the parent.
(3) Grounds for termination of parental rights shall be based on one or more of the following factors:
(a) A parent has deserted without means of identification, or abandoned and made no contact with, a child * * * for a period of six (6) months; or
(b) A parent has been responsible for a series of abusive incidents concerning one or more children; or
(c) When the child has been in the care and custody of a licensed child caring agency for at least one (1) year, that agency has made diligent efforts to develop and implement a plan for return of the child to its parents, and:
(i) The parent has failed to exercise reasonable available visitation with the child; or
(ii) The parent, having agreed to a plan to effect placement of the child with the parent, fails to implement the plan so that the child caring agency is unable to return the child to said parent; or
(d) The parent exhibits ongoing behavior which would make it impossible to return the child to the parent's care and custody:
(i) Because the parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time such as alcohol or drug addiction, severe mental deficiencies or mental illness, or extreme physical incapacitation, which condition makes the parent unable to assume minimally, acceptable care of the child; or
(ii) Because the parent fails to eliminate behavior, identified by the child caring agency or the court, which prevents placement of said child with the parent in spite of diligent efforts of the child caring agency to assist the parent; or
(e) When there is an extreme and deep-seated antipathy by the child toward the parent or when there is some other substantial erosion of the relationship between the parent and child which was caused at least in part by the parent's serious neglect, abuse, prolonged and unreasonable absence, unreasonable failure to visit or communicate, or prolonged imprisonment; or
(f) When a parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses against his natural or adopted child: (i) rape of a child under the provisions of Section 97-3-65, (ii) sexual battery of a child under the provisions of Section 97-3-95(c), (iii) touching a child for lustful purposes under the provisions of Section 97-5-23, (iv) exploitation of a child under the provisions of Section 97-5-31, (v) felonious abuse or battery of a child under the provisions of Section 97-5-39(2), or (vi) carnal knowledge of a step or adopted child or a child of a cohabitating partner under the provisions of Section 97-5-41.
(4) Legal custody and guardianship by persons other than the parent as well as other permanent alternatives which end the supervision by the Department of Human Services should be considered as alternatives to the termination of parental rights, and these alternatives should be selected when, in the best interest of the child, parental contacts are desirable and it is possible to secure such placement without termination of parental rights.
(5) When a parent has been convicted of rape of a child under the provisions of Section 97-3-65, sexual battery of a child under the provisions of Section 97-3-95(c), touching a child for lustful purposes under the provisions of Section 97-5-23, exploitation of a child under the provisions of Section 97-5-31, felonious abuse or battery of a child under the provisions of Section 97-5-39(2), or carnal knowledge of a step or adopted child or a child of a cohabitating partner under the provisions of Section 97-5-41, notice of the conviction shall be forwarded by the circuit clerk of the county in which the conviction occurred to the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Social Services.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.