Senate approves terminating parental rights of abusers

The Senate approved legislation Monday modifying rules to terminate parental rights. Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, and Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, are the authors of House Bill 2318 to add findings of child abuse or neglect that is heinous and shocking as legal grounds for the termination of parental rights.

Under the bill, failing to protect a child, even it is not their own, from such treatment could result in the termination of parental rights.

“Sadly, child abuse is a major problem in our state, and we must strengthen our laws to better protect those who can’t protect themselves,” said Garvin, who's District 43 covers portions of western Garvin County.

“I’m proud to have carried this important legislation in the Senate to close this loophole and stop abusive adults from being allowed to continue parenting. Abuse is a vicious cycle that must be stopped for the sake of our state’s youth.”

Currently, parental rights can be terminated under a number of legal grounds, including, but not limited to:

• the voluntary consent of the parent,

• the parent’s voluntary placement of the child in DHS custody or to a child-placing agency for out-of-home placement, has not complied with the placement agreement or has not shown a strong intention to resume physical custody or to make permanent legal arrangements for the child’s care,

• a finding of child abandonment or that the child is an abandoned infant,

• a finding that the parent has failed to correct within three months the condition which led to the child’s deprived adjudication,

• a finding that the parent’s rights to another child have been terminated, and the conditions that led to that prior termination have not been corrected,

• a finding that a parent without custody of the child willfully failed. refused or has neglected to contribute to the child’s support for six of the last 12 months, and

• a finding that the parent has been convicted in another state of abuse or neglect, molestation, rape, etc.

“Current law only allows for the termination of parental rights if a parent is found to have abused or neglected their own children,” Lawson said.

“However, abuse is often a life-long behavior, so House Bill 2318 will extend the definition to include any children that adult has been found to have hurt at any time in their life. This is a commonsense measure that will better protect children from being victimized by those who should be protecting them, and I’m grateful for the wide support of this measure.

HB 2318 now returns to the House for final consideration before moving on to the governor’s desk.

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