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Sixth Substitute H.B. 156

Senator Todd Weiler proposes the following substitute bill:




Chief Sponsor: LaVar Christensen

Senate Sponsor: Margaret Dayton

             7      LONG TITLE
             8      General Description:
             9          This bill modifies Title 78A, Chapter 6, Juvenile Court Act, by amending provisions
             10      relating to the termination of parental rights and permitting the restoration of terminated
             11      parental rights.
             12      Highlighted Provisions:
             13          This bill:
             14          .    defines terms;
             15          .    permits a child, age 12 or older, to submit a petition for restoration of terminated
             16      parental rights under certain circumstances;
             17          .    describes the duties of the Division of Child and Family Services in responding to a
             18      petition for restoration of terminated parental rights;
             19          .    describes the circumstances under which a court may grant a petition for restoration
             20      of terminated parental rights; and
             21          .    makes technical changes.
             22      Money Appropriated in this Bill:
             23          None
             24      Other Special Clauses:
             25          None

             26      Utah Code Sections Affected:
             27      AMENDS:
             28          78A-6-503, as last amended by Laws of Utah 2012, Chapter 281
             29          78A-6-513, as renumbered and amended by Laws of Utah 2008, Chapter 3
             30      ENACTS:
             31          78A-6-1401, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             32          78A-6-1402, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             33          78A-6-1403, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             34          78A-6-1404, Utah Code Annotated 1953
             36      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             37          Section 1. Section 78A-6-503 is amended to read:
             38           78A-6-503. Judicial process for termination -- Parent unfit or incompetent -- Best
             39      interest of child.
             40          (1) Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, a parent
             41      possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent's
             42      child. For this reason, the termination of family ties by the state may only be done for
             43      compelling reasons.
             44          (2) The court shall provide a fundamentally fair process to a parent if a party moves to
             45      terminate parental rights.
             46          (3) If the party moving to terminate parental rights is a governmental entity, the court
             47      shall find that any actions or allegations made in opposition to the rights and desires of a parent
             48      regarding the parent's child are supported by sufficient evidence to satisfy a parent's
             49      constitutional entitlement to heightened protection against government interference with the
             50      parent's fundamental rights and liberty interests.
             51          (4) The fundamental liberty interest of a parent concerning the care, custody, and
             52      management of the parent's child is recognized, protected, and does not cease to exist simply
             53      because a parent may fail to be a model parent or because the parent's child is placed in the
             54      temporary custody of the state. The court should give serious consideration to the fundamental
             55      right of a parent to rear the parent's child, and concomitantly, of the right of the child to be
             56      reared by the child's natural parent.

             57          (5) At all times, a parent retains a vital interest in preventing the irretrievable
             58      destruction of family life.
             59          (6) Prior to an adjudication of unfitness, government action in relation to a parent and a
             60      parent's child may not exceed the least restrictive means or alternatives available to accomplish
             61      a compelling state interest.
             62          (7) Until parental unfitness is established and the children suffer, or are substantially
             63      likely to suffer, serious detriment as a result, the child and the child's parent share a vital
             64      interest in preventing erroneous termination of their relationship and the court may not presume
             65      that a child and the child's parents are adversaries.
             66          (8) It is in the best interest and welfare of a child to be raised under the care and
             67      supervision of the child's natural parents. A child's need for a normal family life in a
             68      permanent home, and for positive, nurturing family relationships is usually best met by the
             69      child's natural parents. Additionally, the integrity of the family unit and the right of parents to
             70      conceive and raise their children are constitutionally protected. For these reasons, the court
             71      should only transfer custody of a child from the child's natural parent for compelling reasons
             72      and when there is a jurisdictional basis to do so.
             73          (9) The right of a fit, competent parent to raise the parent's child without undue
             74      government interference is a fundamental liberty interest that has long been protected by the
             75      laws and Constitution of this state and of the United States, and is a fundamental public policy
             76      of this state.
             77          (10) The state recognizes that:
             78          (a) a parent has the right, obligation, responsibility, and authority to raise, manage,
             79      train, educate, provide for, and reasonably discipline the parent's children; and
             80          (b) the state's role is secondary and supportive to the primary role of a parent.
             81          (c) It is the public policy of this state that parents retain the fundamental right and duty
             82      to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education of their
             83      children.
             84          (d) The interests of the state favor preservation and not severance of natural familial
             85      bonds in situations where a positive, nurturing parent-child relationship can exist, including
             86      extended family association and support.
             87          (11) This part provides a judicial process for voluntary and involuntary severance of

             88      the parent-child relationship, designed to safeguard the rights and interests of all parties
             89      concerned and promote their welfare and that of the state.
             90          (12) Wherever possible family life should be strengthened and preserved, but if a
             91      parent is found, by reason of his conduct or condition, to be unfit or incompetent based upon
             92      any of the grounds for termination described in this part, the court shall then consider the
             93      welfare and best interest of the child of paramount importance in determining whether
             94      termination of parental rights shall be ordered.
             95          Section 2. Section 78A-6-513 is amended to read:
             96           78A-6-513. Effect of decree.
             97          (1) An order for the termination of the parent-child legal relationship divests the child
             98      and the parents of all legal rights, powers, immunities, duties, and obligations with respect to
             99      each other, except the right of the child to inherit from the parent.
             100          (2) An order or decree entered pursuant to this part may not disentitle a child to any
             101      benefit due him from any third person, including, but not limited to, any Indian tribe, agency,
             102      state, or the United States.
             103          (3) [After] Except as provided in Sections 78A-6-1401 through 78A-6-1404 , after the
             104      termination of a parent-child legal relationship, the former parent is neither entitled to any
             105      notice of proceedings for the adoption of the child nor has any right to object to the adoption or
             106      to participate in any other placement proceedings.
             107          Section 3. Section 78A-6-1401 is enacted to read:
Part 14. Restoration of Parental Rights Act

             109          78A-6-1401. Restoration of Parental Rights Act.
             110          This part is known as the "Restoration of Parental Rights Act."
             111          Section 4. Section 78A-6-1402 is enacted to read:
             112          78A-6-1402. Definitions.
             113          As used in this part, "former parent" means an individual whose legal parental rights
             114      were terminated under this chapter.
             115          Section 5. Section 78A-6-1403 is enacted to read:
             116          78A-6-1403. Petition to restore parental rights -- Duties of the division.
             117          (1) A child, or an authorized representative acting on behalf of a child, may file a
             118      petition to restore parental rights if:

             119          (a) the child is 12 years of age or older or as provided in Subsection (2)(b);
             120          (b) 24 months have passed since the court ordered termination of the parent-child legal
             121      relationship; and
             122          (c) the child:
             123          (i) has not been adopted and is not in an adoptive placement, or is unlikely to be
             124      adopted before the child is 18 years of age; or
             125          (ii) was previously adopted following a termination of a parent-child legal relationship,
             126      but the adoption failed and the child was returned to the custody of the division.
             127          (2) (a) A child younger than 12 years of age may not petition for restoration of parental
             128      rights except as provided in Subsection (2)(b).
             129          (b) A child 12 years of age or older, or the child's authorized representative, may
             130      petition for restoration of parental rights, and if the child has a sibling who is younger than 12
             131      years of age, the child may include the sibling in the petition.
             132          (c) The court may grant a petition for restoration of parental rights for a child younger
             133      than 12 years of age as described in Subsection 78A-6-1404 (2).
             134          (3) The petition described in Subsection (1) shall be:
             135          (a) filed in the juvenile court that previously terminated the parent-child relationship;
             136      and
             137          (b) served on the division.
             138          (4) The division shall notify and inform a child who qualifies for restoration of parental
             139      rights under Subsection (1)(a) through (c) that the child is eligible to petition for restoration
             140      under this part.
             141          (5) Upon the receipt of a petition to restore parental rights, the division shall:
             142          (a) make a diligent effort to locate the former parent whose rights may be restored
             143      under this part; and
             144          (b) if the former parent is found, as described in Subsection (5)(a), notify the former
             145      parent of:
             146          (i) the legal effects of restoration; and
             147          (ii) the time and date of the hearing on the petition.
             148          (6) The court shall set a hearing on the petition at least 30 days, but no more than 60
             149      days, after the day on which the petition is filed with the court.

             150          (7) Before the hearing described in Subsection (6), the division may submit a
             151      confidential report to the court that includes the following information:
             152          (a) material changes in circumstances since the termination of parental rights;
             153          (b) a summary of the reasons why parental rights were terminated;
             154          (c) the date on which parental rights were terminated;
             155          (d) the willingness of the former parent to resume contact with the child and have
             156      parental rights restored;
             157          (e) the ability of the former parent to be involved in the life of the child and accept
             158      physical custody of, and responsibility for, the child; and
             159          (f) any other information the division reasonably considers appropriate and
             160      determinative.
             161          Section 6. Section 78A-6-1404 is enacted to read:
             162          78A-6-1404. Hearing on the petition to restore parental rights.
             163          (1) At the hearing on the petition described in Section 78A-6-1403 , if the former parent
             164      consents and if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of
             165      the child, the court may:
             166          (a) allow contact between the former parent and child, and describe the conditions
             167      under which contact may take place;
             168          (b) order that the child be placed with the former parent in a temporary custody and
             169      guardianship relationship, to be reevaluated six months from the day on which the child is
             170      placed; or
             171          (c) restore the parental rights of the parent.
             172          (2) The court may restore the parent-child legal relationship for a child who is younger
             173      than 12 years of age if:
             174          (a) the petitioner:
             175          (i) is a sibling of the child;
             176          (ii) meets the requirements of Subsection 78A-6-1403 (1); and
             177          (iii) includes the child who is younger than 12 years of age in the petition described in
             178      Section 78A-6-1403 ;
             179          (b) the child who is younger than 12 years of age meets the requirements of
             180      Subsections 78A-6-1403 (1)(b) and (c);

             181          (c) considering the age and maturity of the child, the child consents to the restoration;
             182          (d) the former parent consents to the restoration; and
             183          (e) the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that restoration is in the best
             184      interest of the child who is younger than 12 years of age.
             185          (3) In determining whether reunification is appropriate and in the best interest of the
             186      child, the court shall consider:
             187          (a) whether the former parent has been sufficiently rehabilitated from the behavior that
             188      resulted in the termination of the parent-child relationship;
             189          (b) extended family support for the former parent; and
             190          (c) other material changes of circumstances, if any, that may have occurred that warrant
             191      the granting of the motion.
             192          (4) If the court orders the child to be placed in the physical custody of the former
             193      parent under Subsection (1), the court shall specify in the order:
             194          (a) whether that custody is subject to:
             195          (i) continued evaluation by the court; or
             196          (ii) the supervision of the division; and
             197          (b) the terms and conditions of reunification.

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