Each State Terminates Parental Rights Differently

How One Family Fought CPS

The Associated Press recently highlighted the varied standards and outcomes nationwide for termination of parental rights.[1] According to the data provided there from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington State in 2014 had 10,630 children in out-of-home care, with 1,733 of those having a termination of parental rights. That percentage (~16.3%) is essentially the same as the nationwide average (~15.5%, with 64,398 of the 415,129 total children in out-home-care having termination of parental rights). States vary from 3.5% in Maryland to 30% in Texas. Washington’s standards for the filing of termination petitions is found in RCW 13.34.180.

One of the many causes of these disparities is the amount of funding states make available for services that help keep families together, such as “quality child-care programs, mental health care and drug treatment programs.” Additionally, some feel there is a “culture of bias” against a biological parent once a termination proceeding is initiated. Such biases presumably vary widely depending on the political makeup and culture of each state.

Balancing a parent’s fundamental rights with a child’s need to a safe, stable and nurturing permanent environment is a hugely complex issue, and it’s clear states have struck that balance in much different ways despite federal guidelines that aim to provide some degree of uniformity.

[1] [Crary, David. “Terminating Parental Rights: State Policies Vary Widely.” AP.org. N.p., 30 Apr. 2016. Web. 



Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.
ebl home subscribe image


Latest Blog Posts

An experienced Seattle estate planning attorney can provide understanding about what happens to debts after you die.

A Seattle family law attorney can help you move into the future with this comprehensive guide to your next steps following divorce.

A Seattle estate planning attorney can provide strategies for having a productive family meeting about estate planning.

Learn from an experienced Seattle family law attorney skills for how to divorce a narcissist in Washington state.

A Seattle estate planning attorney can help you draft a mental health advance care directive as part of your estate plan.

A Seattle family law attorney can help if you find you are in a situation where your ex is abusing your pet.

If you are an unmarried couple, a Seattle family law attorney can help you protect your partner through the use of wills and trusts.

A Seattle family law attorney can guide you with next steps should you discover that your spouse has been unfaithful.

An estate planning attorney can help you draft a will or designate some of your property as non-probate assets by creating various trusts.

Not sweating the small stuff is even more important during separation than it is at other times to have an amicable divorce.