Now here's a complicated case. A wife and husband with two children divorced and in 2011 the mother died from strangulation.
Who committed the murder? And should the alleged murderer - the ex-husband - be able to retain his parental rights?
Initially, a jury found the ex-husband guilty of strangling his ex-wife and sentenced him to life in prison with no option for parole during the first 25 years of his sentence.
Grandparents See Opportunity to Terminate Parental Rights & Adopt Grandchildren
In March of 2012, the maternal grandparents - guardians of the children - filed an action to terminate the ex son-in-law's parental rights. Coincidentally, that same month the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the father's murder conviction.
In June 2014, the grandparents filed an amended petition to adopt the children. In light of the murder conviction, their decision made sense.
Four months later, a court terminated the father's parental rights even though the father asked the judge to delay a decision until after his appeal hearing, which was scheduled to start in December.
This year, the Supreme Court of the State of Idaho overturned the murder conviction based on the fact that a district judge wrongly excluded evidence that would have corroborated the father's testimony proclaiming his innocence.
In addition, the court overturned a lower court's decision to terminate his parental rights.
Factors for Terminating Parental Rights
Terminating parental rights isn't easy. There are numerous factors under which a judge will consider ruling in favor of termination of these, and they include these conditions:
- Severe or chronic physical abuse of the child.
- Any sexual abuse of the child.
- Severe psychological abuse or torture of the child.
- Extreme emotional damage to the child inflicted by the parent.
- Child neglect by failing to provide shelter, food, or other needed care as is required by parental obligations.
- Abuse or neglect of other children in the same household.
- Abandonment of the child or extreme parental disinterest.
- Long-term mental illness of the parent.
- Long-term alcohol or drug induced incapacity of the parent.
- Failure to support the child Failure to maintain contact with the child.
- Failure to provide education.
- Felony conviction of the parent for a violent crime against the child or another family member.
- Felony conviction of the parent, when the term of imprisonment is long enough to impact negatively the child, and the only other source of care for the child is foster care.
- Failure of the parent to comply with a court-ordered plan.
- The child would be at risk if returned to the parent's home.
- Unreasonable withholding of consent to adoption by the non-custodial parent.
- The child's need for continuity and care.
- The identity or location of the father is unknown after a reasonable attempt to determine or find him.
- The child was conceived as a result of rape or incest.
- The putative or presumptive father is not the child's biological father.
- Giving birth to three or more drug-affected infants.
- Other egregious conduct or heinous or abhorrent behavior by the parent either to the child or others in a way that affects the child.
- The child has developed a strong and healthy relationship with his or her foster or another substitute family.
- And as the above case illustrated, murder when the conviction sticks
If you suspect abuse of any kind, contact authorities right away. In Sonoma County, call Child Protective Services at 1-866-901-3212. In Mendocino County call 707-459-2867 and in Lake County call 800-386-4090 or 707-262-0235.
After you have involved law enforcement, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible.