A recent termination of parental rights case affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that the mother’s progress towards correcting her parental deficiencies was too little, too late.
In Welfare of A.G., L.S. cause # 27659-7-III consolidated with cause # 27660-1-III, the trial court concluded that “there is little likelihood that conditions will be remedied so that A.G. or L.S. could be returned to their mother in the near future.”
Termination of parental rights is a two-step process. First, the state must show that it has established the six statutory requirements by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. Second, once those factors have been established, the state must show by a preponderance of the evidence that termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
The six statutory factors are:
1. the child has been found dependent;
2. the court has entered a dispositional order;
3. the child has been removed from the custody of the parent for at least six months;
4. remedial services have been offered and/or provided;
5. there is little likelihood that the conditions will be remedied in the near future; and
6. that continuation of the parent/child relationship clearly diminishes the child’s prospects for early integration into a permanent and stable home.
The factors at issue in this case were numbers five and six. The court explained that “near future” depends on the age and circumstances of the child, but that a parent’s inability to correct their deficiencies within one year creates a rebuttable presumption that the conditions will not be remedied.
The appellate court held that the trial court’s factual findings supported its conclusion that the state had established elements five and six.