Section 12-15-319. Grounds for termination of parental rights; factors considered; presumption arising from abandonment
(a) If the juvenile court finds from clear and convincing evidence, competent, material, and relevant in nature, that the parents of a child are unable or unwilling to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child, or that the conduct or condition of the parents renders them unable to properly care for the child and that the conduct or condition is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future, it may terminate the parental rights of the parents. In a hearing on a petition for termination of parental rights, the court shall consider the best interests of the child. In determining whether or not the parents are unable or unwilling to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child and to terminate the parental rights, the juvenile court shall consider the following factors including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) That the parents have abandoned the child, provided that in these cases, proof shall not be required of reasonable efforts to prevent removal or reunite the child with the parents.
(2) Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency of the parent, or excessive use of alcohol or controlled substances, of a duration or nature as to render the parent unable to care for the needs of the child.
(3) That the parent has tortured, abused, cruelly beaten, or otherwise maltreated the child, or attempted to torture, abuse, cruelly beat, or otherwise maltreat the child, or the child is in clear and present danger of being tortured, abused, cruelly beaten, or otherwise maltreated as evidenced by the treatment of a sibling.
(4) Conviction of and imprisonment for a felony.
(5) Commission by the parents of any of the following:
a. Murder or manslaughter of another child of that parent.
b. Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or manslaughter of another child of that parent.
c. A felony assault or abuse that results in serious bodily injury to the surviving child or another child of that parent. The term serious bodily injury means bodily injury that involves substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
(6) Unexplained serious physical injury to the child under those circumstances as would indicate that the injuries resulted from the intentional conduct or willful neglect of the parent.
(7) That reasonable efforts by the Department of Human Resources or licensed public or private child care agencies leading toward the rehabilitation of the parents have failed.
(8) That parental rights to a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated.
(9) Failure by the parents to provide for the material needs of the child or to pay a reasonable portion of support of the child where the parent is able to do so.
(10) Failure by the parents to maintain regular visits with the child in accordance with a plan devised by the Department of Human Resources, or any public or licensed private child care agency, and agreed to by the parent.
(11) Failure by the parents to maintain consistent contact or communication with the child.
(12) Lack of effort by the parent to adjust his or her circumstances to meet the needs of the child in accordance with agreements reached, including agreements reached with local departments of human resources or licensed child-placing agencies, in an administrative review or a judicial review.
(13) The existence of any significant emotional ties that have developed between the child and his or her current foster parent or parents, with additional consideration given to the following factors:
a. The length of time that the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment.
b. Whether severing the ties between the child and his or her current foster parent or parents is contrary to the best interest of the child.
c. Whether the juvenile court has found at least one other ground for termination of parental rights.
(b) If a parent has been convicted of rape in the first degree pursuant to Section 13A-6-61, sodomy in the first degree pursuant to Section 13A-6-63, or incest pursuant to Section 13A-13-3, the juvenile court shall make a finding that the parent is unable to properly care for a child and to discharge his or her responsibilities to and for a child and shall terminate the parental rights of the parent.
(c) The juvenile court is not required to consider a relative to be a candidate for legal guardian of the child in a proceeding for termination of parental rights if both of the following circumstances exist:
(1) The relative did not attempt to care for the child or obtain custody of the child within four months of the child being removed from the custody of the parents or placed in foster care, if the removal was known to the relative.
(2) The goal of the current permanency plan formulated by the Department of Human Resources is adoption by the current foster parents.
(d) A rebuttable presumption that the parents are unable or unwilling to act as parents exists in any case where the parents have abandoned a child and this abandonment continues for a period of four months next preceding the filing of the petition. Nothing in this subsection is intended to prevent the filing of a petition in an abandonment case prior to the end of the four-month period.