Quick Summary of the Path to Terminate Parental Rights in Massachusetts
The path to terminate parental rights in the court's of Massachusetts is firmly established. A decision to terminate parental rights involves a two-step analysis by a judge after hearing and reading all evidence presented in a case. First, in order to terminate parental rights a judge must make a determination that the parent is currently unfit and second, that termination is in the best interests of the child. A finding of unfitness requires that the judge inquire whether the parent's deficiencies place the child at serious risk of peril from abuse, neglect, or other activity harmful to the child. Once a parent is found to be unfit, the judge must determine whether a parent's unfitness is such that it would be in the child's best interests to end all legal relations between the parent and child. The judge's assessment of the weight of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses is entitled to deference. If a child is under the age of twelve and the court adjudicates the child to be in need of care and protection, the court is required to enter an order dispensing with the need for consent to adoption upon finding that such an order is in the best interests of the child.