Friday, March 1, 2024
Friday, March 1, 2024

Senate Passes Bill to Modify Parental Rights Termination

The Senate passed a bill on Friday morning that would tweak how parental rights in West Virginia are terminated in cases of parental neglect.

Currently in West Virginia, abuse and neglect cases end with a circuit court’s termination of the biological parent’s parental rights. Often, the children of those parents are adopted by a foster family or a relative.

As discussed in the Judiciary Committee earlier this week, the adoption process begins with a petition filed, in many cases, by the adoption attorney representing the individuals seeking to adopt the children. Recently, there have been situations in the state where adoption petitions are being filed prematurely, with hearings held and adoptions finalized prior to the resolution of a biological parent’s appeal of the circuit court’s ruling.

Senate Bill 318 would require that adoption petitions be filed only after a biological parent’s appeal has been denied, or their allotted time to file such an appeal has elapsed.

Members learned in committee that if termination of parental rights were reversed on appeal after an adoption was finalized, the result would be a legal mess with no simple resolution, likely resulting in trauma to the child and the family as well as the adoptive parents.

The legislation now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration.

The Senate is adjourned until Monday, Jan. 29, at 11 a.m.

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