TITLE 13

Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 11. TERMINATION AND TRANSFER OF PARENTAL RIGHTS IN ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS


(1) "Abandoned" shall be interpreted as referring to a basis for termination of parental rights as described in § 1103(a)(2) of this title.

a. A minor who has not attained 6 months of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, and for whom the respondent has failed to:

1. Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with the respondent's financial means, for support of the minor; and

2. Visit regularly with the minor; and

3. Manifest the ability and willingness to exercise parental responsibilities if, during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent.

b. A minor who has not attained 6 months of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, and for whom the respondent has manifested the unwillingness to exercise parental rights and responsibilities, as evidenced by the respondent's placing the minor in circumstances which leave the minor in substantial risk of injury or death.

c. A minor who has attained 6 months of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, and for whom the respondent, for a period of at least 6 consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, has failed to:

1. Make reasonable and consistent payments, in accordance with the respondent's financial means, for support of the minor; and

2. Communicate or visit regularly with the minor; and

3. Manifest the ability and willingness to exercise parental responsibilities if, during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent.

The respondent's act of abandonment cannot be cured by subsequent conduct. No present intent to abandon the minor need be proved by the petitioner.

(2) "Authorized agency" means any agency duly approved, certified, recognized or licensed by the proper authority of any other state in which that agency is located to place children for adoption.

(3) "Child" means any male or female who has not attained his or her eighteenth birthday.

(4) "Court" shall mean the Family Court of the State.

(5) "Department" or "DSCYF" means the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families of this State.

(6) "Father" means the biological or adoptive male parent of the child.

(7) "Infant" means any child who is less than 6 months of age.

(8) "Licensed agency" means any agency granted a license by the Department to place children for adoption.

(9) "Mentally incompetent" shall be interpreted as referring to a parent who is unable to discharge parental responsibilities by reason of mental illness, psychopathology, mental retardation or mental deficiency.

(10) "Parental responsibilities" means the care, support and control of the child in a manner that provides for the child's necessary physical needs, including adequate food, clothing and shelter, and that also provides for the mental and emotional health and development of such child.

(11) "Presumed father" means any man who is assumed to be the father of a child in accordance with Chapter 8 of this title.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 1; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1101; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 53 Del. Laws, c. 102, §§ 1, 2; 57 Del. Laws, c. 363, § 8; 58 Del. Laws, c. 511, § 22; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§ 14, 15; 61 Del. Laws, c. 178, § 2; 62 Del. Laws, c. 420, §§ 5, 6; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, § 6; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 317, § 1; 72 Del. Laws, c. 431, § 1; 79 Del. Laws, c. 165, § 1.;

(a) The Family Court shall have jurisdiction of proceedings under this chapter to terminate parental rights.

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

(1) The county in which at least 1 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 is located.

(c) Whenever the Family Court shall assume jurisdiction for the purposes of this chapter, it shall be deemed to have retained jurisdiction for the purpose of proceeding 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, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 363, § 9; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 2; 62 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 3; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

(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 the child by some other plan which may or may not contemplate the continued possibility of eventual adoption, may be initiated whenever it appears to be in the child's best interest and that 1 or more of the following grounds exist:

(1) The parent or parents of a child, or the person or persons or organization holding parental rights over such child, desires to relinquish such parental rights for the purpose of adoption;

(2) The child has been abandoned.

a. The Court may order a termination of parental rights based upon abandonment if the Court finds that the following occurred and that the respondent intended to abandon the child:

1. In the case of a minor who has not attained 6 months of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, and for whom the respondent has failed to:

A. Pay reasonable prenatal, natal and postnatal expenses in accordance with the respondent's financial means;

B. Visit regularly with the minor; and

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

2. In the case of a minor who has attained 6 months of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights is filed, the respondent, for a period of at least 6 consecutive months in the year preceding the filing of the petition, has failed to:

A. Communicate or visit regularly with the minor; and

B. Manifest an ability and willingness to assume legal and physical custody of the minor, if, during this time, the minor was not in the physical custody of the other parent; or

3. In the case of a minor who has not attained 6 years of age at the time a petition for termination of parental rights has been filed, and for whom the respondent has manifested the unwillingness to exercise parental rights and responsibilities, as evidenced by the respondent's placing the minor in circumstances which leave the minor in substantial risk of injury or death.

b. In cases in which no finding of intent to abandon has been made, the Court may order a termination of parental rights based upon abandonment if the Court finds that the respondent, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months in the 18 months preceding the filing of the petition, has failed to:

1. Communicate or visit regularly with the minor;

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

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

and if the Court finds that one of the following grounds exists:

1. If the minor is not in the legal and physical custody of the other parent, the respondent is not able or willing promptly to assume legal and physical custody of the minor, and to pay for the minor's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means;

2. If the minor is in the legal and physical custody of the other parent and a stepparent, and the stepparent is the prospective adoptive parent, the respondent is not able or willing promptly to establish and maintain contact with the minor and to pay for the minor's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means;

3. Placing the minor in the respondent's legal and physical custody would pose a risk of substantial harm to the physical or psychological well-being of the minor because the circumstances of the minor's conception, the respondent's behavior during the mother's pregnancy or since the minor's birth, or the respondent's behavior with respect to other minors, indicates that the respondent is unfit to maintain a relationship of parent and child with the minor; or

4. Failure to terminate would be detrimental to the minor. In determining whether a failure to termination would be detrimental to the minor, the Court shall consider any relevant factor, including the respondent's efforts to obtain or maintain legal and physical custody of the minor, the role of other persons in thwarting the respondent's efforts to assert parental rights, the respondent's ability to care for the minor, the age of the minor, the quality of any previous relationship between the respondent and the minor and between the respondent and any other minor children, the duration and suitability of the minor's present custodial environment and the effect of a change of physical custody on the minor.

c. The respondent's act of abandonment cannot be cured by subsequent conduct.

d. Abandonment of a baby as provided in § 907A of Title 16 shall be final 30 days after such abandonment, and such abandonment shall be:

1. The surrendering person's irrevocable consent to the termination of all parental rights, if any, of such person on the ground of abandonment; and

2. The surrendering person's irrevocable waiver of any right to notice of or opportunity to participate in any termination of parental rights proceeding involving such child,

unless such surrendering person has manifested an intent to exercise parental rights and responsibilities within 30 days of such abandonment.

(3) The parent or parents of the child or any person or persons holding parental rights over such child are found by the Court to be mentally incompetent and, from evidence of 2 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; or

(4) The respondent has been found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have:

a. Committed a felony level offense against the person, as described within subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 11, in which the victim was a child; or

b. Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit an offense set forth in paragraph (a)(4)a. of this section; or

c. Committed or attempted to commit the offense of dealing in children, as set forth in § 1100A of Title 11; or

d. Committed the felony level offense of endangering the welfare of a child as set forth in § 1102 of Title 11.

(5) The parent or parents of the child, or any person or persons holding parental rights over the child, are not able, or have failed, to plan adequately for the child's physical needs or mental and emotional health and development, and 1 or more of the following conditions are met:

a. In the case of a child in the care of the Department or a licensed agency:

1. The child has been in the care of the Department or licensed agency for a period of 1 year, or for a period of 6 months in the case of a child who comes into care as an infant, or there is a history of previous placement or placements of this child; or

2. There is a history of neglect, abuse or lack of care of the child or other children by the respondent; or

3. The respondent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities due to extended or repeated incarceration, except that the Court may consider postconviction conduct of the respondent; or

4. The respondent is not able or willing to assume promptly legal and physical custody of the child, and to pay for the child's support, in accordance with the respondent's financial means; or

5. Failure to terminate the relationship of parent and child will result in continued emotional instability or physical risk to the child. In making a determination under this paragraph, the Court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

A. Whether the conditions that led to the child's placement, or similar conditions of a harmful nature, continue to exist and there appears to be little likelihood that these conditions will be remedied at an early date which would enable the respondent to discharge parental responsibilities so that the child can be returned to the respondent in the near future;

B. The respondent's efforts to assert parental rights of the child, and the role of other persons in thwarting the respondent's efforts to assert such rights;

C. The respondent's ability to care for the child, the age of the child, the quality of any previous relationship between the respondent and the child or any other children;

D. The effect of a change of physical custody on the child; and

E. The effect of a delay in termination on the chances for a child to be placed for adoption.

b. In the case of a child in the home of a stepparent, guardian, permanent guardian or blood relative:

1. The child has resided in the home of the stepparent, guardian, permanent guardian or blood relative for a period of at least 1 year, or for a period of 6 months in the case of an infant; and

2. The Court finds the respondent is incapable of discharging parental responsibilities, and there appears to be little likelihood that the respondent will be able to discharge such parental responsibilities in the near future.

(6) The respondent's parental rights over a sibling of the child who is the subject of the petition have been involuntarily terminated in a prior proceeding.

(7) The parent has subjected a child to torture, chronic abuse, sexual abuse, and/or life-threatening abuse.

(8) A child has suffered unexplained serious physical injury, near death or death under such circumstances as would indicate that such injuries, near death or death resulted from the intentional or reckless conduct or wilful neglect of the parent.

(b) Unless adoption is contemplated, the termination of 1 parent's rights shall not be granted if the effect will be to leave only 1 parent holding parental rights, unless the Court shall find the continuation of the rights to be terminated will be harmful to the child.

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

(d) The Department is not required to perform, but is not prohibited from performing, reunification and related services as outlined in Chapter 90 of Title 29 when the grounds for termination of parental rights are those stated in paragraph (a)(2), (4), (6), (7) or (8) of this section.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 2; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1103; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 50 Del. Laws, c. 534, § 2; 53 Del. Laws, c. 102, § 3; 56 Del. Laws, c. 301, § 2; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, § 16; 60 Del. Laws, c. 241, § 9; 62 Del. Laws, c. 420, § 7; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 71 Del. Laws, c. 317, §§ 2-5; 72 Del. Laws, c. 179, §§ 1, 2; 72 Del. Laws, c. 431, §§ 2-4; 73 Del. Laws, c. 171, § 4; 73 Del. Laws, c. 187, §§ 6, 8; 75 Del. Laws, c. 376, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 23, §§ 1-5; 77 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 3; 78 Del. Laws, c. 406, § 1.;

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

(1) The mother of a child;

(2) The father or presumed father of a child;

(3) Both parents of a child;

(4) A blood relative of a child;

(5) The Department or a licensed agency;

(6) A guardian or permanent guardian.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 3; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1104; 49 Del. Laws, c. 57, § 1; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 50 Del. Laws, c. 534, § 2; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, § 17; 60 Del. Laws, c. 241, § 10; 62 Del. Laws, c. 420, §§ 8, 9; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, § 6; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 32, § 4.;

(a) The petition for the termination of parental rights shall state:

(1) Name and place of residence of the petitioner or petitioners;

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

(3) Relationship of the petitioner or petitioners to the child or the fact that no such relationship exists;

(4) The name and address of the mother and the address of the father or presumed father;

(5) Where the name and address of the father is not provided, a statement, with an affidavit from the mother attached to the petition, that:

a. The mother knows the name of the biological father but is unwilling to disclose his name; or

b. The mother does not know the name of the biological father; or

c. The mother knows the name of the biological father and has provided it, but that she has never known his address; and

d. The mother's husband, if she was married at the time of the child's conception or birth, is not the child's biological father.

If the mother is unavailable or refuses to provide the requisite affidavit, the petition shall set forth such information as required by this paragraph as is known to the petitioner;

(6) The name and last known address of the person or persons or organization holding parental rights and the name and address of the person or persons or organization having the care, control or custody of the child;

(7) The grounds for termination of parental rights;

(8) The name and address of the person or persons or of the Department or licensed agency to which parental rights are requested to be transferred;

(9) In addition to other pertinent information, the petition, if either the name or address of the parent or parents is not included, shall furnish detailed information concerning the efforts made to locate the parent or parents. This information shall include a statement that the petitioner has inquired to determine whether the woman who gave birth to the child was married at the probable time of conception of the child, or at a later time, and whether the woman has named any individual as the father on the birth certificate of the child.

(10) A statement that petitioner has explored the possibility of placement of the child with blood relatives, if both parents' rights are being terminated, and the results of such efforts; and

(11) A statement outlining what other placement efforts have been taken, if any.

(12) A statement that each birth parent has been advised of the right to file an affidavit as provided by subchapter III of Chapter 9 of this title.

(b) Executed consents and written certifications required by § 1106 of this title and waivers of notice as permitted by § 1106A of this title shall accompany the petition as exhibits.

(c) In any case in which a petition for the termination of parental rights has been filed pursuant to § 1103(a)(1) of this title and the Department or a licensed agency is a party to the proceeding, there shall be attached to the petition a social report. In any case in which a petition for the termination of parental rights has been filed on any other ground set forth in § 1103(a) of this title and the Department or a licensed agency is a party to the proceeding, a social report shall be filed no later than 1 week prior to the date of the hearing on the petition.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 4; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1105; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§ 18, 19; 60 Del. Laws, c. 241, §§ 11, 12; 62 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 9; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, § 6; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 433, § 8; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§ 5-7.;

(a) In the case of proceedings based on § 1103(a)(1) of this title consent shall be required from:

a. The mother of the child;

b. The father and any presumed father of the child; provided that:

1. The consent of an alleged biological father or presumed father need not contain an admission of paternity. In the event the alleged biological father or presumed father denies paternity, an affidavit to that effect signed by him shall be attached to the petition in lieu of a consent;

2. In the event that the mother was married at the time of the child's conception or birth but her husband at those times is not the biological father of the child, a notarized statement of the husband that he is not the biological father of the child shall be prima facie proof thereof in the absence of evidence to the contrary. If such a notarized statement of the legal husband cannot be obtained, a notice of hearing shall be sent to him as provided in § 1107 of this title;

3. In the event of a petition containing statements described in § 1105(a)(5)a., b. or c. of this title, after a hearing in which it is established on the record that the mother and father of the child are not living together as husband and wife openly and that they have not done so nor married since the birth of the child, the Court may, following consideration of the social report, dispense with the requirement of the father's consent in compliance with § 1115 of this title;

c. One parent, if the other is deceased;

d. Any other person or persons or organization holding parental rights;

e. One parent alone if the termination of the other parent's rights is being sought based on grounds as in § 1103(a)(2), (3), (4) or (5) of this title.

(b) If the person in whom the right to consent exists is under the age of 18, this fact shall not be a bar to the giving of consent nor render the consent invalid when given, provided the requirements of subsections (c) and (d) 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. Consent by the father or presumed father may be executed either before or after the child is born. A consent executed by a parent or guardian must be signed or confirmed in the presence of:

(1) A judge of a court of record;

(2) An individual designated by a judge to take consents;

(3) An employee designated by an agency to take consents;

(4) A lawyer other than a lawyer who is representing an adoptive parent or the agency to which parental rights will be transferred;

(5) A commissioned officer on active duty in the military service of the United States, if the individual executing the consent is in military service; or

(6) 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.

The Court may accept a parent or guardian's verbal consent after a verbal review on the record of the information required pursuant to § 1106A of this title.

(d) An individual before whom a consent is signed or confirmed under subsection (c) of this section shall certify in writing or orally before the Court that he or she explained the contents and consequences of the consent, and to the best of his or her knowledge or belief, the individual executing the consent:

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

(2) Entered into the consent voluntarily; and

(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 the agency to which parental rights are being transferred.

(e) Every petition shall be accompanied by a formal written consent executed by the person or persons for whom or the organization to which parental rights are requested to be transferred indicating that the person or persons or organization agrees to accept parental rights over the child.

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

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 6; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1106; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, §§ 20, 21; 61 Del. Laws, c. 178, § 3; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§ 8, 9.;

(a) A consent required from a parent or guardian must contain:

(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 pursuant to § 923(b) of this title regarding access by the child 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 pursuant to § 1106(c) and (d) of this title, it is final and may not be revoked or set aside for any reason unless the requirements of § 1106B(a) of this title have been met;

(7) A statement that the individual executing the consent understands that the termination will extinguish all parental rights and obligations of the individual executing the consent has 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; and

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

(b) A consent may contain a statement that:

(1) The individual who is consenting waives notice of any proceeding for termination of parental rights under § 1107A of this title; and/or

(2) The consent may be revoked if:

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

b. A court decides not to terminate another individual's parental rights in the child.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, § 10.;

(a) A consent may be revoked if:

(1) Within 14 days of executing the consent, the parent who executed the consent notifies in writing the agency or individual to which the parental rights had been transferred that the parent revokes the consent;

(2) The parent complies with any other instructions for revocation which were specifically set forth in the consent; or

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

(b) The Court shall set aside a consent if the individual who executed the consent establishes:

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

(2) By a preponderance of the evidence that a condition permitting revocation, as expressly provided for in the consent, has occurred.

(c) If consent is revoked pursuant to this section, custody of the child shall be determined 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 shall be immediately returned to the individual, unless the child is dependent or neglected;

(2) If the individual who executed the consent did not have legal and/or physical custody of the child when the consent was executed, custody of the child shall revert to the individual or organization that held custody at the time the consent was executed. If alternative grounds under § 1103 of this title for termination of parental rights exist, the petitioner may proceed on those grounds.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, § 11.;

(a) When a petition for the termination of parental rights is filed in which the Department or licensed agency is a party to the proceedings, the Court shall set a date for hearing thereon, and shall cause notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing to be served as required in § 1107A of this title.

(b) When a petition for termination of parental rights is filed and the Department or licensed agency is not a party to the proceeding, the Court shall, before any hearing, order a social study and report on the petition, by the Department or a licensed agency, to be filed within 4 months, subject to such additional time as the Court shall determine is reasonably required. The Court shall set a date for a hearing to take place after the report is to be filed and notice shall be accomplished as provided in § 1107A of this title.

(c) All hearings shall be held before the Court privately, but for reasons appearing sufficient to the Court, the hearing in any particular case may be public.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 6; 12 Del. C. 1953, § 1107; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 59 Del. Laws, c. 466, § 22; 60 Del. Laws, c. 251, § 13; 62 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 4; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, §§ 6, 10; 66 Del. Laws, c. 356, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§ 12, 17.;

(a) Notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing shall be served upon the parent or parents, person or persons or organization holding parental rights at the respondent's last known address or to the address recited in the petition.

(b) No such notice of hearing shall be necessary if a waiver executed by the parent or parents, person or persons or organization holding parental rights has been filed with the petition, in accordance with § 1106A(b) of this title. The Court may require notice to be served upon any other person or organization.

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

(1) The information required by § 1105(a)(9) of this title;

(2) Whether the woman has filed for or received payments or promises of support, other than from a governmental agency, with respect to the child or because of her pregnancy; and

(3) Whether any individual has formally acknowledged or claimed paternity of the child.

(d) If inquiry pursuant to subsection (c) of this section identifies as the father of the child an individual who has not received notice of the proceeding, the Court shall require notice to be served upon him pursuant to this section.

(e) If, in an inquiry pursuant to this section, the woman who gave birth to the child and who is consenting to the termination of her parental rights fails to disclose the identity of a possible father or reveal his whereabouts, she must be advised by the petitioner that the proceeding for adoption may be delayed or subject to challenge if a possible father is not given notice of the proceeding and that the lack of information about the father's medical and genetic history may be detrimental to the child.

(f) If the Court shall find 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 once a week, for 3 successive weeks, in such newspaper of the county, 1 or more, as the Court may judge best for giving the parent or parents, or person or persons or organization holding parental rights notice, the formal wording of said notice to be approved by the Court. 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. The Court may, upon request by the petitioner, order that personal service and publication occur simultaneously.

(g) If any publication is ordered pursuant to subsection (f) of this section, the Court shall also order that the Clerk of the Court, at least 3 weeks prior to the hearing, send by regular and registered or certified mail to the parent or parents or person or persons or organization holding parental rights, at the address or addresses given in the petition, a copy of the same notice, or a similar notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing.

(h) Personal service at any time prior to the hearing shall be sufficient to give jurisdiction.

(i) Notice provided pursuant to this section shall constitute conclusive evidence of service and a hearing will then proceed at the time and date set, with or without the appearance of the parent or parents, person or persons or organization so notified.

(j) The Budget Act shall provide the Department with appropriated special fund (ASF) authority in order to provide public notice of court action or actions involving minors under the Department's custody whose parents' whereabouts are unknown, per Family Court rules. Any other fees, assessments, costs or financial obligations imposed by Family Court for the issuance and service of subpoenas or summons by way of court rules, regulations or administrative procedures may not be charged to the Department. Any such costs associated with these procedures shall be the financial responsibility of Family Court.

73 Del. Laws, c. 171, § 13; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 319, § 1.;

(a) Should the Court find the termination of existing parental rights and their transfer to be in the best interest of the child, it shall make an order terminating such rights in the parent or parents, person or persons or organization in which they have existed and transferring them to some other person or persons or the Department or a licensed agency as may, in the opinion of the Court, be best qualified to receive them.

(b) In the case of proceedings based on § 1103(a)(1) of this title in which all individuals entitled to consent have waived notice of hearing and the right to appear at such hearing in accordance with § 1106(d) of this title, the Court shall issue its decision and order within 30 days after the filing of the petition and social report. In all other cases, the Court shall issue its decision and order within 30 days following the conclusion of the proceedings.

(c) If a child is abandoned by 1 parent only, the rights of such parent may be terminated without affecting the rights of the other.

(d) Upon the expiration of 6 months from the date of the entry of the order of termination of parental rights of the parent or parents, any irregularities in the proceedings shall be deemed cured, and the validity of such decree shall not thereafter be subject to attack either through collateral or direct proceedings by named parties over whom the Court had established personal jurisdiction.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 7; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1108; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 56 Del. Laws, c. 300; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, § 6; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 75 Del. Laws, c. 345, § 1.;

When the mother and/or the father or presumed father of a child are deceased, the Department or a licensed agency may file a petition to transfer the parental rights of the deceased parent or parents to the Department or licensed agency for the purpose of adoption planning when such appears to be in the best interest of the child. The petition shall contain:

(1) Name and place of residence of the petitioner or petitioners;

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

(3) The names, places of residence and dates of death of the mother and/or the father or presumed father of the child;

(4) Certified copies of the death certificates of the parents of the child; and

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

68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 73 Del. Laws, c. 171, §§ 14-16.;

The petitioner, if the petition is not granted, or any person or organization whose parental rights have been terminated by the order, may, at any time within 30 days after the making and entry of such decree, take an appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court.

48 Del. Laws, c. 135, § 8; 13 Del. C. 1953, § 1109; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

All court costs including costs of giving notice and advertising shall be paid by the petitioners. Court costs do not include attorney fees of the respondent or respondents.

13 Del. C. 1953, § 1110; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

(a) All court records and dockets pertaining to any termination shall be confidential and shall be kept by the Clerk of the Court in a sealed container which shall be opened only by the order of a Judge of the Family Court, except as provided in subchapter III of Chapter 9 of this title.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed in such a way as to restrict the Department or a licensed agency from releasing nonidentifying information in its records to any of the parties to the termination.

(c) Identifying information, such as names and addresses, shall not be released by the Department or a licensed agency except:

(1) By order of the Court;

(2) According to § 929 of this title; or

(3) According to subchapter III of Chapter 9 of this title.

(d) In cases where the adopted individual's health or the health of any blood relative of the adopted individual is concerned and the agency has refused to release the health information to the adopted individual, the Court, through petition by the adopted individual, may permit the individual to inspect only that part of the agency or court record containing medical information for health reasons. The Court shall order open to inspection by the adopted individual the part of the record containing the needed medical information if the Court finds that any medical information in the court or agency record of the adopted individual is needed for the health of the adopted individual or any blood relative of the adopted individual. This section shall apply to information as to the identification and location of any biological sibling of the adopted individual if the adopted individual's health or the health of any blood relative of the adopted individual depends on the sibling's participation in any medical treatment.

(e) Anyone wishing to inspect the papers filed in connection with any termination shall petition the Family Court or the court of original jurisdiction setting forth the reasons for the inspection. The Court may refer the petition to the Department or a licensed agency for investigation and report. If, in the opinion of the Court, the information is necessary, and the interests of the adopted individual, the biological parents or the adoptive parents will not be prejudiced by its disclosure, the Court shall issue an order permitting the release of the information and setting forth the terms under which it shall be released.

13 Del. C. 1953, § 1111; 50 Del. Laws, c. 17, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 402, § 2; 62 Del. Laws, c. 402, §§ 3, 4; 62 Del. Laws, c. 420, § 10; 64 Del. Laws, c. 108, §§ 4, 10; 64 Del. Laws, c. 387, § 2; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1; 69 Del. Laws, c. 433, §§ 6, 7.;

(a) 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. 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.

(b) Upon the issuance of an order terminating the existing parental rights and transferring such parental rights to another person or organization, the child shall lose all rights of inheritance from the parents whose parental rights were terminated and from their collateral or lineal relatives and the parents whose parental rights were terminated and their collateral or lineal relatives shall lose all rights of inheritance from the child.

(c) Nothing contained in this section shall limit in any way the right of any person to provide for the disposition of his or her property by will.

13 Del. C. 1953, § 1112; 53 Del. Laws, c. 102, § 4; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

After the issuance of an order terminating the existing parental rights and transferring them to the Department or a licensed agency, the agency shall attempt to promptly place the child for adoption. Every 6 months thereafter until an adoption decree is entered the agency shall advise the Court in writing of the status of the child stating the reasons for the delay in placement or adoption. The Court may, after notice, hold a hearing to determine if any further action is required in the best interest of the child.

65 Del. Laws, c. 457, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

This chapter is designed to achieve without undue delay the paramount objective of the best interest of the child, and all questions of interpretation shall be resolved with that objective in mind.

59 Del. Laws, c. 466, § 23; 62 Del. Laws, c. 420, § 11; 68 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 1.;

(a) A petition for reinstatement of parental rights may be filed in Family Court on behalf of any child provided:

(1) The child is at least 14 years of age at the time of the petition is filed;

(2) Parental rights in the child are currently vested in DSCYF regardless of the date parental rights were terminated;

(3) The child is currently in DSCYF custody;

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

(5) The child consents to the reinstatement;

(6) The parent or parents who are subject to reinstatement consent; and

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

(b) The Family Court shall retain jurisdiction to reinstate parental rights in any case where the Family Court previously terminated parental rights. A petition for reinstatement shall be filed in the county in which the child's DSCYF custody case is heard.

(c) A petition for reinstatement of parental rights may be filed by the child, the child's attorney, the child's guardian ad litem, or DSCYF against one or both parents. The Court, in its discretion, may also appoint an attorney to represent the child.

(d) Notice and service of the petition shall be provided as set forth in § 3103 of Title 10 and the rules of the court.

(e) Should the elements of subsection (a) of this section be met, the Court shall hold a hearing on the petition for reinstatement of parental rights. The Court may grant the petition if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that reinstatement is in the best interests of the child.

(f) No petition granted under this section shall affect the validity of the underlying order terminating parental rights.

(g) No parent whose rights are reinstated under this section shall be liable for child support for any time period in which parental rights were terminated.

(h) No cause of action shall be created against DSCYF, the licensed agency or any other party concerning the original termination of parental rights. Upon issuance of a final order reinstating parental rights, the effect of such order shall be that all of the rights, duties, privileges and obligations recognized by law between parent and child shall be reinstated, including but not limited to rights of inheritance.

79 Del. Laws, c. 165, § 2.;