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  • Acts
  • 1999
  • Chapter 6 AN ACT MAKING CERTAIN TECHNICAL CHANGES TO THE LAW RELATIVE TO ADOPTION AND PROMOTING THE WELFARE OF CHILDREN.

Whereas , The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is forthwith to expedite the adoption process and promote the welfare of the children of the commonwealth, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. The second paragraph of section 26 of chapter 119 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out clause (4), as most recently amended by section 9 of chapter 3 of the acts of 1999, and inserting in place thereof the following clause:-

(4) It may enter an order to dispense with the need for consent of any person named in section 2 of chapter 210, to the adoption, custody, guardianship or other disposition of the child named therein, upon a finding that the child is in need of care and protection pursuant to this section and that the best interests of the child will be served by such an order. In determining whether such an order should be made, the standards set forth in section 3 of said chapter 210 concerning an order to dispense with the need for consent to adoption of a child shall be applied. If the child who is the subject of the petition is under the age of 12, and if the court adjudicates the child to be in need of care and protection in accordance with this section, the court shall enter an order dispensing with the need for consent to adoption upon finding that the best interests of the child, as defined in paragraph (c) of said section 3 of said chapter 210, will be served thereby. The entry of such an order shall have the effect of terminating the rights of a person named therein to receive notice consent to any legal proceeding affecting the custody, guardianship, adoption or other disposition of the child named therein.

The department of social services shall file a petition or, in the alternative, a motion to amend a petition pending pursuant to this section, to dispense with parental consent to adoption, custody, guardianship or other disposition of the child under the following circumstances: (i) the child has been abandoned; (ii) the parent has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of such parent, of aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter or of an assault constituting a felony which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of such parent; or (iii) the child has been in foster care in the custody of the state for 15 of the immediately preceding 22 months. For the purposes of this paragraph, a child shall be considered to have entered foster care on the earlier of: (a) the date of the first judicial finding, pursuant to section 24 or this section, that the child has been subjected to abuse or neglect; or (b) the date that is 60 days after the date on which the child is removed from the home. For the purposes of this section, "serious bodily injury" shall mean bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty. The department shall concurrently identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for adoption.

The department need not file such a motion or petition to dispense with parental consent to the adoption, custody, guardianship or other disposition of the child if the child is being cared for by a relative or the department has documented in the case plan a compelling reason for determining that such a petition would not be in the best interests of the child or that the family of the child has not been provided, consistent with the time period in the case plan, such services as the department deems necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home if reasonable efforts as set forth in section 29C are required to be made with respect to the child.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following circumstances shall constitute grounds for dispensing with the need for consent to adoption, custody, guardianship or other disposition of the child: (i) the child has been abandoned; (ii) the parent has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction of the murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of such parent, of aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit such murder or voluntary manslaughter or of an assault constituting a felony which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent.

SECTION 2. The second paragraph of section 29B of said chapter 119,as appearing in section 12 of said chapter 3, is hereby amended by strik out the first sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- In the case of a child placed in foster care outside the state in which the home of the parents of the child is located, the permanency plan shall also address whether the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child.

SECTION 3. Paragraph (b) of section 3 of chapter 210 of the General Laws, as appearing in section 17 of said chapter 3, is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph the following two paragraphs:-

A petition brought pursuant to this paragraph may be filed and a decree entered notwithstanding the pendency of a petition brought under chapter 119 or chapter 201 regarding the same child. The chief justice for administration and management of the trial court may, pursuant to the provisions of section 9 of chapter 211B, assign a justice from any department of the trial court to sit as a justice in any other department or departments of the trial court and hear simultaneously a petition filed under this paragraph and any other pending case or cases involving custody or adoption of the same child. A temporary or permanent custody decree shall not be a requirement to the filing of such petition.

A juvenile court or a district court shall enter a decree dispensing with the need for consent of any person named in section 2 to the adoption of a child named in a petition filed pursuant to section 24 of chapter 119 in such court upon a finding that such child is in need of care and protection pursuant to section 26 of said chapter 119 and that the best interests of the child as defined in paragraph (c) will be served by such decree. The entry of such decree shall have the effect terminating the rights of aperson named therein to receive notice of or to consent to any legal proceeding affecting the custody, guardianship, adoption or other disposition of the child named therein. Facts may be set either in the care and protection petition filed pursuant to said section 24 of said chapter 119 or upon a motion made inthe course of a care and protection proceeding, alleging t allowance ofthe petition or motion is in the best interests of the child.

SECTION 4. The third paragraph of paragraph (c) of said section 3 of said chapter 210, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out clause (iii) and inserting in place thereof the fol clause:-

(iii) a court of competent jurisdiction has transferred custody of the child from the child's parents to the department, the placement has lasted for at least six months and the parents have not maintained significant and meaningful contact with the child during the previous six months nor have they, on a regular and consistent basis, accepted or productively utilized services intended to correct the circumstances;.

SECTION 5. This act shall take effect as of March 31, 1999.

Approved April 1, 1999.