TITLE 13

Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 11. Termination and Transfer of Parental Rights in Adoption Proceedings

§ 1101. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(1) “Alleged father” means as defined in § 8-102 of this title.

(2) “Child” means as defined in § 302 of Title 1.

(3) “Conviction” means as defined in § 222 of Title 11.

(4) “Court” means the Family Court of the State of Delaware.

(5) “Delinquent child” means as defined in § 901 of Title 10.

(6) “Dependency” or “dependent child” means as defined in § 901 of Title 10.

(7) “DSCYF” means the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families of this State.

(8) “Father” means an individual who has established a father-child relationship under § 8-201(b) of this title.

(9) “Individual” means a human being.

(10) “Infant” means a child who is less than 6 months old.

(11) “Licensed agency” means an agency to which the Delaware Department of Education has granted a license to place children for adoption.

(12) “Mother” means an individual who has established a mother-child relationship under § 8-201(a) of this title.

(13) “Neglect” or “neglected child” means as defined in § 901 of Title 10.

(14) “Parent” means as defined in § 8-102 of this title.

(15) “Parental responsibilities” means the care or support of a child in a manner that does both of the following:

a. Provides for the child’s physical needs, including food, clothing, and shelter.

b. Advances the child’s education and physical, mental, and emotional health and development.

(16) “Party” means a party in a termination of parental rights proceeding under this chapter.

(17) “Petitioner” means a petitioner in a termination of parental rights proceeding under this chapter.

(18) “Presumed father” means as defined in § 8-102 of this title.

(19) “Relative” means as defined in § 901 of Title 10.

(20) “Respondent” means a respondent in a termination of parental rights proceeding under this chapter.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  1;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1101;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  153 Del. Laws, c. 102, §§  1, 257 Del. Laws, c. 363, §  858 Del. Laws, c. 511, §  2259 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§  14, 1561 Del. Laws, c. 178, §  262 Del. Laws, c. 420, §§  5, 664 Del. Laws, c. 108, §  668 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  171 Del. Laws, c. 317, §  172 Del. Laws, c. 431, §  179 Del. Laws, c. 165, §  179 Del. Laws, c. 371, §  1283 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 1

§ 1102. Jurisdiction and venue.

(a) The Court has exclusive jurisdiction of proceedings under this chapter to terminate parental rights.

(b) A petition for termination of parental rights may be filed in the Court of any of the following counties:

(1) The county in which a parent resides.

(2) The county in which the organization having legal or physical care, custody, or control of the child is located.

(3) The county in which the child resides.

(c) If the Court assumes jurisdiction under this chapter, it is deemed to have retained jurisdiction under Chapter 9 of this title relating to adoption.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §§  2, 5;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1102;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  157 Del. Laws, c. 363, §  957 Del. Laws, c. 402, §  262 Del. Laws, c. 402, §  368 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 2

§ 1103. Grounds for termination of parental rights.

(a) The procedure for termination of parental rights for the purpose of adoption or, if a suitable adoption plan cannot be effected, for the purpose of providing for the care of a child by another plan which may or may not contemplate the continued possibility of eventual adoption, may be initiated when it appears to be in the child’s best interest and 1 or more of the following grounds exist:

(1) Consent. — A parent of the child, or a person or organization holding parental rights over the child desires to relinquish parental rights for the purpose of adoption, and the Court, in its discretion, accepts the consent or the parent has satisfied the requirements under § 907A of Title 16.

(2) Intentional abandonment. — The Court finds that the respondent abandoned the child and the abandonment was intentional. The respondent’s subsequent conduct does not cure the abandonment. Intentional abandonment is evidenced by at least 1 of the following:

a. When the petition for termination of parental rights is filed, the child is under 6 months old and the respondent has failed to do all of the following:

1. Pay reasonable prenatal, natal, and postnatal expenses for the child.

2. Visit regularly with the child or file a petition for visitation with the Court.

3. Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child, if the child was not in the physical custody of the other parent during this time.

b. When the petition for termination of parental rights is filed, the child is at least 6 months old and, for at least 6 consecutive months of the 12 months preceding the filing of the petition, the respondent failed to do all of the following:

1. Communicate or visit regularly with the child.

2. Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child, if the child was not in the physical custody of the other parent during this time.

c. When the petition for termination of parental rights is filed, the child is under 6 years old and the respondent has manifested unwillingness to exercise parental rights and responsibilities over the child, as evidenced by the respondent having placed the child in circumstances in which the child was at substantial risk of injury or death.

(3) Unintentional abandonment. — The Court finds that the respondent abandoned the child and the abandonment was unintentional. The respondent’s subsequent conduct does not cure the abandonment. Unintentional abandonment is evidenced by both of the following:

a. For at least 12 consecutive months of the 18 months preceding the filing of the petition, the respondent has failed to do all of the following:

1. Communicate or visit regularly with the child.

2. File or pursue a pending petition to establish paternity or to establish a right to have contact or visitation with the child.

3. Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the child, if the child was not in the physical custody of the other parent during this time.

b. One or more of the following grounds exists:

1. The child is not in the other parent’s legal and physical custody and the respondent is not able or willing to promptly assume legal and physical custody of the child and pay reasonable support for the child.

2. The child is in the legal and physical custody of the other parent and a stepparent, and all of the following apply:

A. The stepparent is the prospective adoptive parent.

B. The respondent is not able or willing to promptly establish and maintain contact with the child and pay reasonable support for the child.

3. Placing the child in the respondent’s legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the child’s physical or psychological well-being because the respondent is unfit to maintain a relationship of parent and child with the child, as indicated by at least 1 of the following:

A. The circumstances of the child’s conception.

B. The respondent’s behavior during the mother’s pregnancy or since the child’s birth.

C. The respondent’s behavior with respect to another child.

4. Failure to terminate the respondent’s parental rights would be detrimental to the child. — In determining whether this ground exists, the Court shall consider all relevant factors, including all of the following:

A. The respondent’s efforts to obtain or maintain legal and physical custody of the child.

B. The role of another person in thwarting the respondent’s efforts to assert parental rights.

C. The respondent’s ability to care for the child.

D. The child’s age.

E. The quality of a previous relationship between the respondent and child, and between the respondent and another child.

F. The duration and suitability of the child’s current custodial environment.

G. The effect on the child of a change of physical custody.

(4) Conviction or adjudication of delinquency. — The respondent has had a conviction or has been adjudicated as a delinquent child relating to any of the following offenses or substantially similar offenses of another jurisdiction:

a. A felony level offense against the person under subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 11, in which the victim is a child.

b. Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit a felony level offense against the person under subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 11, in which the victim is a child.

c. Dealing in children or attempting to deal in children, under § 1100A of Title 11.

d. Felony level endangering the welfare of a child, under § 1102 of Title 11.

e. Murder or manslaughter of the other parent of the child who is the subject of the petition.

f. Aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit murder or manslaughter of the other parent of the child who is the subject of the petition.

(5) Failure to plan. — A child is in DSCYF custody or placed by a licensed agency and the respondent is not able or has failed to plan adequately for the child’s physical needs or mental and emotional health and development, and at least 1 of the following conditions are met:

a. The child has been in DSCYF custody or placed by a licensed agency for at least 1 year.

b. The child has been in DSCYF custody or placed by a licensed agency for at least 6 months and the child came into care as an infant.

c. DSCYF previously had custody of the child or another child of the respondent.

d. The respondent has a history of dependency, neglect, abuse, or lack of care of the child or another child.

e. The respondent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities due to extended or repeated incarceration, but the Court may consider the respondent’s postconviction conduct.

(6) Failure to plan, private. — The child is a dependent child or neglected child in the respondent’s care at the time of the hearing and the Court finds that all of the following exist:

a. The petitioner is the child’s parent, guardian, permanent guardian, or relative.

b. The child has resided in the petitioner’s home for at least 1 year.

c. The respondent failed to discharge parental responsibilities for at least 12 of the 18 months preceding the filing of the petition.

d. The respondent is unlikely to be able to remedy the dependency or neglect in the near future. In making this determination, the Court shall consider the respondent’s efforts to remedy the dependency or neglect.

(7) Prior involuntary termination. — The respondent’s parental rights over another child have been involuntarily terminated.

(8) Abuse. — The respondent has subjected a child to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, or life-threatening abuse.

(9) Unexplained serious injury or death. — A child has suffered unexplained serious physical injury, near death, or death under circumstances indicating that the injuries, near death, or death resulted from the respondent’s intentional or reckless conduct or wilful neglect.

(b) Unless adoption is contemplated, the termination of 1 parent’s rights may not be granted if the effect will be to leave only 1 parent holding parental rights, unless the Court finds that continuing the rights to be terminated will cause the child serious physical or emotional harm.

(c) Nothing in this chapter may be construed to authorize a court to terminate the rights of a parent solely because the parent provides for the child, in good faith and in lieu of medical treatment, treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer under the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination. However, nothing under this chapter prevents a court from immediately assuming custody of a child and ordering whatever action may be necessary, including medical treatment, to protect the child’s health and welfare.

(d) DSCYF is not required to perform reunification or related services under Chapter 90 of Title 29 when the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a ground for termination of a parent’s rights exists under paragraphs (a)(2), (4), (7), (8), or (9) of this section. Notwithstanding the Court’s finding, DSCYF may elect, in its sole discretion, to perform reunification or related services under Chapter 90 of Title 29.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  2;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1103;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  150 Del. Laws, c. 534, §  253 Del. Laws, c. 102, §  356 Del. Laws, c. 301, §  259 Del. Laws, c. 466, §  1660 Del. Laws, c. 241, §  962 Del. Laws, c. 420, §  768 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  171 Del. Laws, c. 317, §§  2-572 Del. Laws, c. 179, §§  1, 272 Del. Laws, c. 431, §§  2-473 Del. Laws, c. 171, §  473 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§  6, 875 Del. Laws, c. 376, §  177 Del. Laws, c. 23, §§  1-577 Del. Laws, c. 32, §  378 Del. Laws, c. 406, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 3

§ 1104. Eligibility to petition for termination of parental rights.

A petition for the termination of parental rights may be filed by any of the following:

(1) A parent or presumed father of the child.

(2) A relative of the child.

(3) DSCYF or a licensed agency.

(4) A guardian or permanent guardian of the child.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  3;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1104;  49 Del. Laws, c. 57, §  150 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  150 Del. Laws, c. 534, §  259 Del. Laws, c. 466, §  1760 Del. Laws, c. 241, §  1062 Del. Laws, c. 420, §§  8, 964 Del. Laws, c. 108, §  668 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  177 Del. Laws, c. 32, §  483 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 4

§ 1105. Contents of petition.

(a) A petition for the termination of parental rights must state all of the following:

(1) The petitioner’s name and address.

(2) The child’s name, date of birth, and place of birth.

(3) The petitioner’s relationship to the child or the fact that no relationship exists.

(4) The name and address of each parent or presumed father, or name and address of the organization holding parental rights.

(5) a. If the name and address of the father is not provided under paragraph (a)(4) of this section, a statement with an affidavit from the petitioner must be attached to the petition, stating at least 1 of the following:

1. The mother knows the name of the father but is unwilling to disclose the father’s name.

2. The mother does not know the father’s name.

3. The mother knows the father’s name and has provided it, but the mother has never known the father’s address.

4. . The mother’s husband when the child was conceived or born, if any, is not the child’s father.

b. If the mother is unavailable or refuses to provide the information required under paragraph (a)(5)a. of this section, the petition must include as much information that is required under paragraph (a)(5)a. of this section as the petitioner knows.

c. If the name or address of a parent is omitted, the petition must include detailed information on the efforts made to locate the missing name or address. The information must include a statement that the petitioner has inquired to determine if either of the following apply to the individual who gave birth to the child:

1. The individual was married at or after the probable time of the child’s conception.

2. The individual named a father on the child’s birth certificate.

(6) The name and address of the person or organization having the care, control, or custody of the child.

(7) The ground for termination of parental rights.

(8) If the child’s parent, guardian, permanent guardian, or relative petitions under § 1103(a)(6) of this title, a detailed statement of why the child would be a dependent child or neglected child in the respondent’s care.

(9) If a petition is filed under § 1103(b) of this title, a detailed statement of the serious physical or emotional harm to the child.

(10) The name and address of the person, DSCYF, or licensed agency to which parental rights are requested to be transferred.

(11) If DSCYF is the petitioner and requesting that both parents’ rights be terminated, a statement that the petitioner has explored the possibility of placing the child with relatives and the results of those efforts.

(12) A statement outlining other placement efforts, if any.

(b) An executed consent or written certification under § 1106 of this title or a waiver of notice under § 1106A of this title must accompany the petition as an exhibit.

(c) If DSCYF or a licensed agency is a party to a petition filed under § 1103(a)(1) of this title and each respondent has waived that respondent’s right to notice under § 1106A of this title, the petition must be accompanied by a social report prepared under § 1107 of this title.

(d) A petition under this chapter must be accompanied by a notarized written consent executed by the person or organization to which parental rights are requested to be transferred, indicating that the person or organization agrees to accept parental rights over the child until an adoption is finalized, unless the petition is filed under § 1103(b) of this title.

(e) A petition under this chapter in which DSCYF or a licensed agency is not a party must be accompanied by a petition for adoption, unless the petition is filed under § 1103(b) of this title.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  4;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1105;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  159 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§  18, 1960 Del. Laws, c. 241, §§  11, 1262 Del. Laws, c. 402, §  964 Del. Laws, c. 108, §  668 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  169 Del. Laws, c. 433, §  870 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§  5-779 Del. Laws, c. 209, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 5

§ 1106. Consent requirements.

(a) In a proceeding under § 1103(a)(1) of this title, consent is required from all of the following:

(1) The mother, father, and, if applicable, presumed father of the child.

a. An admission of paternity is not required for an alleged father’s or presumed father’s consent. If the alleged father or presumed father denies paternity, the petition must include, in lieu of a consent, an affidavit denying paternity that the alleged father or presumed father signed.

b. If the mother was married when the child was conceived or born, but the mother’s husband at conception or birth is not the child’s biological father, the husband’s notarized statement that the husband is not the child’s biological father is prima facie proof that the husband is not the biological father, absent evidence to the contrary. If the husband’s notarized statement cannot be obtained, a notice of hearing must be sent to the husband under § 1107 of this title.

c. If a petition contains a statement under § 1105(a)(5)a.1., 2., or 3. of this title and the Court finds, after a hearing and in consideration of the social report, that the child’s mother and father are not living together openly as husband and wife and they have not done so and have not married since the child’s birth, the Court may waive the requirement of the father’s consent.

(2) One parent alone, if the other is deceased.

(3) Another person or organization holding parental rights.

(4) One parent alone if the termination of the other parent’s rights is sought on another ground.

(b) If the person in whom the right to consent exists is under the age of 18, this fact is not a bar to the giving of consent and does not render the consent invalid when given, if the requirements under subsections (d) and (e) of this section are met.

(c) A mother whose consent to the termination of parental rights is required may execute a consent only after the child is born. A father or presumed father may execute a consent either before or after the child is born.

(d) A consent by a parent, agency, or organization holding parental rights must be executed in at least 1 of the following ways:

(1) Signed or confirmed in the presence of at least 1 of the following:

a. A judge or commissioner of a court of record.

b. An individual that a judge has designated to take a consent.

c. An employee that an agency has designated to take a consent.

d. A lawyer other than the lawyer representing an adoptive parent or the agency to which parental rights will be transferred.

e. A commissioned officer on active duty in the military service of the United States, if the individual executing the consent is in military service.

f. An officer of the foreign service or a consular officer of the United States in another country, if the individual executing the consent is in that country.

(2) Made orally and accepted by the Court after a review on the record of the information required under § 1106A of this title.

(e) An individual before whom a consent is signed or confirmed under subsection (d) of this section shall certify in writing or orally before the Court that the individual explained the contents and consequences of the consent and, to the best of the individual’s knowledge or belief, the individual executing the consent did all of the following:

(1) Read or was read the consent and understood it.

(2) Entered into the consent voluntarily.

(3) If the individual executing the consent is a parent who is a minor, was advised by a lawyer who is not representing an adoptive parent or agency to which parental rights are being transferred.

(f) Once the requirements under subsections (d) and (e) of this section have been met, the consent to termination and transfer of parental rights is irrevocable unless the requirements under § 1106B(a) of this title have been met.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  6;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1106;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  159 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§  20, 2161 Del. Laws, c. 178, §  368 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§  8, 983 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 6

§ 1106A. Contents of consent to terminate and transfer parental rights.

(a) A consent to terminate and transfer parental rights must contain all of the following:

(1) The date, place, and time of the execution of the consent.

(2) The name, date of birth, and current mailing address of the individual executing the consent.

(3) The date of birth and the name or pseudonym of the child.

(4) The name, address, and telephone number of the agency to which parental rights are being transferred.

(5) Information regarding the birth parent’s right to file a notarized statement under § 923(b) of this title regarding the child’s access to identifying information regarding the birth parent, if the child is adopted.

(6) A statement that the individual executing the consent understands that after the consent is signed and confirmed under § 1106(d) and (e) of this title, it is final and may not be revoked or set aside unless the requirements under § 1106B(a) or (b) of this title have been met.

(7) A statement that the individual executing the consent understands that the termination will extinguish all of that individual’s parental rights and obligations with respect to the child, except for arrearages of child support.

(8) A statement that the individual executing the consent has received a copy of the consent.

(9) A statement that the individual executing the consent has not received or been promised money or anything of monetary value for the consent.

(b) A consent may contain 1 or more of the following statements:

(1) The consenting individual waives notice of a proceeding for termination of parental rights under § 1107A of this title.

(2) The consent may be revoked if at least 1 of the following occur:

a. Another consent is not executed within a specified period.

b. A court denies the termination of the other parent’s rights in the child.

c. Another condition occurs as agreed upon by each party.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §  1083 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 7

§ 1106B. Revocation of consent to termination and transfer of parental rights.

(a) A consent may be revoked if any of the following occur:

(1) Within 14 days of executing the consent, the parent who executed the consent delivers written notification of revocation to the agency or individual to which the parental rights are to be transferred.

(2) The parent complies with another instruction for revocation which was specifically stated in the consent under § 1106A(b)(2)c. of this title.

(3) The individual who executed the consent and the agency or individual that accepted the consent agree to its revocation.

(b) The Court shall set aside a consent if the individual who executed the consent establishes at least 1 of the following:

(1) By clear and convincing evidence, before a decree of adoption is issued, that the consent was obtained by fraud or duress.

(2) By a preponderance of the evidence that a condition permitting revocation has occurred, as expressly provided for in the consent under § 1106A(b)(2)c. of this title.

(c) If consent is revoked under this section, the Court must determine custody of the child as follows:

(1) If the individual who executed the consent had legal and physical custody of the child when the consent was executed, legal and physical custody of the child must be immediately returned to the individual, unless the Court finds that the child is a dependent child or neglected child as to the individual.

(2) If the individual who executed the consent did not have legal or physical custody of the child when the consent was executed, custody of the child must revert to the individual or organization that held custody when the consent was executed. If another ground for termination of parental rights exists under § 1103 of this title, the petitioner may proceed on that ground.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §  1183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 8

§ 1107. Time for hearing; preparation of social report.

(a) If a petition for the termination of parental rights is filed and DSCYF or a licensed agency is a party to the proceedings, the Court shall set a date for a hearing on the petition and shall cause notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing to be served as required under § 1107A of this title. Absent good cause, a social report must be filed no later than 1 week prior to the hearing.

(b) If a petition for termination of parental rights is filed and DSCYF or a licensed agency is not a party, the Court shall order DSCYF or a licensed agency to file a social report within 6 months. The Court shall set a date for a hearing to take place after the report is to be filed, but not earlier than 12 months after the filing of the petition for proceedings under § 1103(a)(6) of this title, and notice must be accomplished under § 1107A of this title.

(c) The information contained in the social report must consider the best interest factors under § 722 of this title and include all of the following:

(1) Information regarding the child and the child’s background.

(2) The history of the child’s custody, visitation, and living arrangements.

(3) Information regarding the parents.

(4) Information regarding the petitioners.

(5) a. Information regarding efforts at reunification with the parents if the petition is filed under § 1103(a)(5) of this title.

b. Information regarding the allegations of dependency and neglect if the petition is filed under § 1103(a)(6) of this title.

(6) The plan for the child if the petition is granted.

(7) A statement that the person preparing the social report or the petitioner has advised each birth parent whose name and whereabouts are known to the petitioner of the birth parent’s right to file a written notarized statement with the Office of Vital Statistics denying the release of identifying information under § 923(b) of this title.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  6;  12 Del. C. 1953, §  1107;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  159 Del. Laws, c. 466, §  2260 Del. Laws, c. 251, §  1362 Del. Laws, c. 402, §  464 Del. Laws, c. 108, §§  6, 1066 Del. Laws, c. 356, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§  12, 1783 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 9

§ 1107A. Notice of hearing to terminate and transfer parental rights.

(a) Notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing must be served upon the parent, person, or organization holding parental rights at the respondent’s last known address or to the address recited in the petition, unless the respondent has waived the notice under § 1106A(b) of this title. The Court may require notice to be served on another person.

(b) If a petition is filed under § 1103(a)(6) of this title, notice must include both of the following:

(1) Information from the detailed statement required under § 1105(a)(8) of this title sufficient to put the respondent on notice of the allegations made against the respondent.

(2) A statement that the respondent has an opportunity to cure the alleged dependency or neglect through conduct subsequent to the filing of the petition.

(c) If, at any time in a proceeding for termination of parental rights, the Court finds that an unknown parent of the child may not have received notice, the Court shall determine whether the parent can be identified. The determination must be based on a review of all of the following:

(1) The information required under § 1105(a)(5)c. of this title.

(2) If another parent has filed for or received payments or promises of support, other than from a governmental agency, with respect to the child or because of the pregnancy.

(3) If an individual has formally acknowledged or claimed parentage of the child.

(d) If inquiry under subsection (c) of this section identifies a parent of the child who has not received notice of the proceeding, the Court shall require notice to be served on the parent under this section.

(e) If, in an inquiry under this section, the woman who gave birth to the child and who is consenting to the termination of the woman’s parental rights fails to disclose the identity of an alleged father or reveal his whereabouts, the petitioner must advise the woman of both of the following:

(1) The proceeding for adoption under Chapter 9 of this title may be delayed or subject to challenge if an alleged father is not given notice of the proceeding.

(2) The lack of information about the father’s medical and genetic history may be detrimental to the child.

(f) (1) If the Court finds that personal service within the State cannot be accomplished upon the parent or parents, person or persons, or organization holding parental rights, the Court shall then cause notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing to be published in at least 1 of the following methods:

a. On a legal notices website established by the Court, for at least 3 successive weeks.

b. In a newspaper of 1 or more counties, as the Court may judge best for giving the parent or parents, or person or persons, or organization holding parental rights notice. The notice must be published once per week, for 3 successive weeks.

(2) The formal wording of a notice under this section must be approved by the Court.

(3) Publication shall also be made in the locality in which the parent or parents, person or persons, or organization holding parental rights is believed to be located if different from the county where the publication just described has been caused.

(4) The Court may, upon the petitioner’s request, order that personal service and publication occur simultaneously.

(g) If the Court orders publication under subsection (f) of this section, the Court shall order the Clerk of Court to send a copy of the notice, or a similar notice, of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing to each parent or organization holding parental rights of the child. The notice must be sent meeting all of the following criteria:

(1) By regular and registered or certified mail.

(2) At least 3 weeks prior to the hearing.

(3) At all addresses in the petition given for the parent or organization.

(h) Personal service any time before the hearing is sufficient to give jurisdiction.

(i) Notice provided under this section constitutes conclusive evidence of service and a hearing may proceed at the time and date set, with or without the appearance of the parent, person, or organization so notified.

(j) The Budget Act shall provide DSCYF with appropriated special fund (ASF) authority to provide public notice of court action involving a minor in DSCYF’s custody whose parents’ whereabouts are unknown, under Family Court rules. The Court may not impose upon DSCYF another fee, cost, or financial obligation for the issuance or service of subpoenas or summons by court rule, regulation, or administrative procedure. Other costs associated with the procedures under this section are the Court’s financial responsibility.

(k) A hearing under this chapter must be held privately before the Court, unless the Court determines that sufficient reason exists to hold the hearing publicly.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §  1370 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 319, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 96, § 283 Del. Laws, c. 226, §§  10, 20

§ 1108. Order of termination and transfer of parental rights.

(a) If the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence both that a ground exists for the termination of existing parental rights and termination and transfer of the rights is in the child’s best interest, the Court shall order the termination of the rights in the parent, person, or organization in which the rights have existed and transfer the rights to another person, DSCYF, or a licensed agency, as the Court determines is best qualified to receive the rights.

(b) (1) In a proceeding under § 1103(a)(1) of this title in which each individual entitled to consent has waived notice of hearing and the right to appear at the hearing under § 1106(e) of this title, the Court shall issue its decision and order within 30 days after the filing of the petition and social report.

(2) In a proceeding under this chapter that does not qualify under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the Court shall issue its decision and order within 30 days following the conclusion of the proceeding.

(c) An irregularity in a proceeding under this chapter is deemed cured on the expiration of 6 months from the date of the entry of the order of termination of parental rights of a parent, and a party over whom the Court established personal jurisdiction may not attack the validity of the order, either through a collateral or direct proceeding.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  7;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1108;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  156 Del. Laws, c. 30064 Del. Laws, c. 108, §  668 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  175 Del. Laws, c. 345, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 11

§ 1109. Petition for transfer of parental rights of deceased parents.

DSCYF or a licensed agency may file a petition to transfer the parental rights of a deceased parent if it appears that adoption is in the best interest of the child. A petition under this section must include all of the following:

(1) Name and address of the petitioner.

(2) Name, date, and place of birth of the child.

(3) Name, address, and date of death of the deceased parent.

(4) A certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased parent.

(5) A statement that the petitioner has explored the possibility of placing the child with relatives and the results of the efforts.

68 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  170 Del. Laws, c. 186, §  173 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§  14-1683 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 12

§ 1110. Appeals.

Each party may, at any time within 30 days after the issuance of the written order, take an appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, §  8;  13 Del. C. 1953, §  1109;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 13

§ 1111. Court costs.

Except as provided under § 1107A of this title, the petitioner shall pay all court costs, including costs for giving notice and advertising. As used in this section, “court costs” does not include the respondent’s attorney fees.

13 Del. C. 1953, §  1110;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 14

§ 1112. Confidential nature of records.

(a) (1) Each court record and docket relating to a proceeding under this chapter is confidential.

(2) The Clerk of the Court shall keep in a sealed container each court record and docket relating to a proceeding under this chapter.

(3) A court record or docket relating to a proceeding under this chapter may be opened only by an order of a judge of the Court.

(b) Nothing in this section may be construed to restrict DSCYF or a licensed agency from releasing nonidentifying information in its records to a party to a termination proceeding under this chapter.

(c) DSCYF or a licensed agency may not release identifying information, such as a name or address, except under at least 1 of the following circumstances:

(1) By court order.

(2) Under § 929 of this title.

(3) Under subchapter III of Chapter 9 of this title.

(d) (1) An adopted individual may file a petition if the adopted individual’s health or the health of the adopted individual’s blood relative is of concern and the agency refuses to release needed health information to the adopted individual.

(2) A court order may permit an adopted individual to inspect only that part of the Court’s or an agency’s record containing needed health information if the Court finds that the adopted individual’s health information is both of the following:

a. Contained in the Court’s or agency record.

b. Needed for the health of the adopted individual or the health of the adopted individual’s blood relative.

(3) This section applies to information relating to the identification or location of the adopted individual’s biological sibling if the health of the adopted individual or the adopted individual’s blood relative depends on the biological sibling’s participation in a medical treatment.

(e) (1) A person that wishes to inspect the papers filed in connection with a proceeding under this chapter may petition the Court or the court of original jurisdiction stating the reason for the inspection.

(2) The Court may refer a petition under this section to DSCYF or a licensed agency for investigation and report.

(3) The Court shall issue an order permitting the release of the information requested and establishing the terms under which the information may be released if the Court finds all of the following:

a. Release of the information is necessary.

b. Release of the information will not prejudice the interests of the adopted individual, biological parent, or adoptive parent.

13 Del. C. 1953, §  1111;  50 Del. Laws, c. 17, §  157 Del. Laws, c. 402, §  262 Del. Laws, c. 402, §§  3, 462 Del. Laws, c. 420, §  1064 Del. Laws, c. 108, §§  4, 1064 Del. Laws, c. 387, §  268 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  169 Del. Laws, c. 433, §§  6, 783 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 15

§ 1113. Effect of termination of parental rights.

(a) Upon the issuance of an order terminating the existing parental rights and transferring the parental rights to another person or organization, all of the rights, duties, privileges, and obligations recognized by law between the person whose parental rights are terminated and the child forever thereafter cease to exist. The person or organization to whom the parental rights are transferred has custody and guardianship of the child, but the custody and guardianship terminate automatically upon the entry of another order transferring parental rights or an order of adoption.

(b) (1) Upon the issuance of an order terminating the existing parental rights and transferring the parental rights to another person or organization, the child loses all rights of inheritance from each parent whose parental rights were terminated and from the parent’s collateral or lineal relatives.

(2) A parent whose parental rights are terminated and the parent’s collateral or lineal relatives lose all rights of inheritance from the child.

(c) This section does not limit the right of an individual to provide for the disposition of the individual’s property by will.

(d) The termination of 1 parent’s rights does not affect the other parent’s rights.

13 Del. C. 1953, §  1112;  53 Del. Laws, c. 102, §  468 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 16

§ 1114. Placement for adoption and post-termination placement order.

If the Court issues an order terminating existing parental rights and transferring them to DSCYF or a licensed agency, all of the following must occur:

(1) The agency shall attempt to promptly place the child for adoption.

(2) Every 6 months after the Court issues the order, or more frequently at the Court’s discretion, and until an adoption decree, guardianship, or permanent guardianship order is entered, the Court shall convene a hearing or require the agency to submit to the Court a written report that must include at least all of the following:

a. Details of the agency’s reasonable efforts toward finalizing a permanency plan.

b. A description of the steps the agency took to achieve the permanency plan.

c. A description of barriers to the permanency plan and how the barriers may be overcome.

65 Del. Laws, c. 457, §  168 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  179 Del. Laws, c. 234, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 17

§ 1115. Interpretation.

This chapter is intended to promote without undue delay the paramount objective of advancing the best interest of the child, and a question of interpretation must be construed liberally to achieve this legislative intent.

59 Del. Laws, c. 466, §  2362 Del. Laws, c. 420, §  1168 Del. Laws, c. 276, §  183 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 18

§ 1116. Reinstatement of parental rights.

(a) A petition for reinstatement of parental rights may be filed in Court on behalf of a child if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The child is at least 14 years old when the petition is filed.

(2) Parental rights in the child are vested in DSCYF when the petition is filed, regardless of the date parental rights were terminated.

(3) The child is in DSCYF custody under Chapter 25 of this title when the petition is filed.

(4) Adoption of the child is not possible or appropriate.

(5) The child consents to the reinstatement.

(6) The parent who is subject to the reinstatement consents.

(7) At least 2 years have elapsed since the final termination of parental rights order or the child is 17 years old.

(b) The Court retains jurisdiction to reinstate parental rights in a case in which the Court previously terminated parental rights. A petition for reinstatement must be filed in the county in which the child’s DSCYF custody case is heard.

(c) The child, the child’s attorney, or DSCYF may file a petition for reinstatement of parental rights against 1 or both parents.

(d) Notice and service of the petition must be completed under § 3103 of Title 10 and Court rules.

(e) (1) If the factors under subsection (a) of this section are met, the Court shall hold a hearing on the petition for reinstatement of parental rights.

(2) The Court may grant a petition under this section if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that reinstatement is in the best interest of the child.

(f) A petition granted under this section does not affect the validity of the underlying order terminating parental rights.

(g) A parent whose rights are reinstated under this section is not liable for child support for the time period during which the parent’s parental rights were terminated.

(h) A cause of action concerning the original termination of parental rights may not be brought against DSCYF, a licensed agency, or another party. Upon the Court’s issuance of a final order reinstating parental rights, all of the rights, duties, privileges, and obligations recognized by law between parent and child are reinstated, including rights of inheritance.

79 Del. Laws, c. 165, §  283 Del. Laws, c. 226, § 19