CHAPTER 102

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 11, TITLE 13, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. § 1101, Title 13, Delaware Code is amended by striking out the definition of "abandoned" appearing therein and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

"Abandoned" shall be interpreted as referring to any child who, for a period of one year, has not received any regular and reasonable financial help from or any substantial visits from his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility and on whose behalf no substantial contracts have been initiated by his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility, provided, however, that in the case of any illegitimate child or foundling, or when the child's father is someone other than said mother's husband (which fact shall be deemed established, prima facie, for the purposes of this statute only, if said mother files an affidavit so averring) then "abandoned" may be interpreted by the court, in its discretion, as referring to a child who, for a period of six months has not received any regular financial help from or any substantial visits from his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility and on whose behalf no substantial contacts have been initiated by his parent or parents or any person having parental rights or responsibility.

Section 2. § 1101, Title 13, Delaware Code is amended by adding thereto the following definition:

"Mentally incompetent" shall be interpreted as referring to a parent who is unable to understand and discharge the natural and regular obligations of care and support of a child by reason of mental illness, psychopathology, mental retardation, or mental deficiency.

Section 3. § 1103, Title 13, Delaware Code is amended by striking out paragraph (3) thereof and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

The parent or parents of any child or any person or persons holding parental rights over such a child are found by the court to be mentally incompetent and, from evidence of two qualified psychiatrists selected by the court, found to be unable to discharge parental responsibilities in the foreseeable future. The court shall appoint a licensed attorney as guardian ad litem to represent the alleged incompetent in the proceeding.

Section 4. Chapter 11, Title 13, Delaware Code is amended by adding thereto a new section as follows:

§ 1112. Effect of termination of parental rights

Upon the issuance of an order terminating the existing parental rights and transferring such parental rights to another person or organization, the effect of such order shall be that all of the rights, duties, privileges and obligations recognized by law between the person or persons whose parental rights are terminated and the child shall forever thereafter cease to exist as fully and to all intents and purposes as if the child and the person or persons whose parental rights have been terminated were and always had been strangers. The person or organization to whom said parental rights are transferred shall have custody and guardianship of the child but such custody and guardianship shall terminate automatically upon the entry of another order transferring parental rights or on an order of adoption.

Approved June 23, 1961.