Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Protection the Children in New Hampshire Intro


My wife and I have a blended family that we love so much.  Our children range from college down to preschool.  Our struggle working through the New Hampshire court's family division has been a difficult road filled with frustration, anger, confusion and genuine disbelief as to what the State of New Hampshire feels is "in the best interest of children."

The State of New Hampshire is categorically one of the worst states when it comes to protecting children from parents whom abuse children through physical, mental or verbal abuse.  Or by way of substance abuse themselves.  Even children with parents who suffer from mental health issues need to be watched carefully and sometimes protected.  But there is more focus on parental rights.  The degree in which New Hampshire fails it's children is recognized by lawyers, law enforcement officials and even advocates that are charged by the state to protect children.  Everywhere we look, its the same, New Hampshire is not doing enough to protect children.

One attorney we spoke with stated, New Hampshire is not a state to have children in, nor is it a state to raise a family.  In the instance a case arises that a good parent says, New Hampshire is not protecting my child(ren), I need to leave this state.  New Hampshire has passed so many laws that limits a parents ability to relocate, it makes it next to impossible to protect your own child(ren) by leaving.  The attorney who made these comments said this needs to change, because it is hurting the children's future for a better outcome, by means of restricting the parents ability for a better way living out of New Hampshire.

In this state, a parent can be a drug addict and still be granted unsupervised parenting time with children.  The drug of choice does not seem to matter to the state.  You can be a heroin, crystal method, cocaine or crack addict and the state feels you are a fit parent.

Just because a parent is biologically related to a child, it does not guarantee the necessary traits to be fit parent.  It takes a loving emotional attachment, a desire for the best future, providing of daily care required to nurture a healthy child  in all aspects, physical and mental well being and most importantly, it requires this parent to be self sacrificial for the child(ren)'s well being.  Being biologically related does not guarantee these traits.

The state cannot and should not dictate what a parent chooses to do.  There is a wide spectrum of parenting styles based on many protected identities including, race, culture and religion.  But the state has the authority to provide boundaries for the safety of children in which if a parent steps over, there are consequences for their actions and precautionary steps need to be taken to protect the child immediately.  When a person puts anything above their child, especially illicit drugs, that person has unilaterally given up theirs rights as a parent.

We want to hear from everyone everywhere.  Ideas, suggestions or plans of how the state of New Hampshire can better protect children.  Is it stricter child protection laws?  Is it new laws written specifically about drug abusers?  Is it altering the relocation ability of non-drug using parents, so they can get away from the drug abuser?  Is it a combination or a multi-facet approach?

If you live in another state, how does your state protect children.  We want to hear from attorneys who work within the current laws and see loop holes or gaps that need to be filled.  We want to hear from state agency workers who see children hurting but cannot do anything due to state law.  We want to hear from parents who watch their children suffer due to a drug addict.  We want to hear from anyone who knows of children suffering due to a drug addict.  We want to hear from everyone how we can protect children in New Hampshire better.  We are trying to gather has many ideas, suggestions and plans as possible.

Current Grounds for Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship

For the first post I am going to provide the current laws in place to terminate parental rights.  I will give my opinion in my next post.

RSA 170-C:5 Grounds for Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship

The petition may be granted where the court finds that one or more of the following conditions exist:

I. The parent has abandoned the child. It shall be presumed that the parent intends to abandon the child who has been left by his parent without provision for his identification or who has been left by his parent in the care and custody of another without any provision for his support, or without communication from such parent for a period of 6 months. If in the opinion of the court the evidence indicates that such parent has made only minimal efforts to support or communicate with the child, the court may declare the child to be abandoned.

II. That, although the parents are financially able, they have substantially and continuously neglected to provide the child with necessary subsistence, education or other care necessary for his mental, emotional, or physical health or have substantially and continuously neglected to pay for such subsistence, education or other care when legal custody is lodged with others; provided, however, it shall not be grounds for the termination of the parent-child relationship for the sole reason the parent of said child relies upon spiritual means through prayer in accordance with a recognized religious method of healing in lieu of medical treatment for the healing of said child.

III. The parents, subsequent to a finding of child neglect or abuse under RSA 169-C, have failed to correct the conditions leading to such a finding within 12 months of the finding despite reasonable efforts under the direction of the district court to rectify the conditions.

IV. Because of mental deficiency or mental illness, the parent is and will continue to be incapable of giving the child proper parental care and protection for a longer period of time than would be wise or prudent to leave the child in an unstable or impermanent environment.  Mental deficiency or mental illness shall be established by the testimony of either 2 licensed psychiatrists or clinical psychologists or one of each acting together.

V. The parent knowingly or willfully caused or permitted another to cause severe sexual, physical, emotional, or mental abuse of the child. Subsequent to a finding of such abuse pursuant to RSA 169-C, the parent-child relationship may be terminated if return of the child to the parent would result in a substantial possibility of harm to the child. A substantial possibility of harm to the child shall be established by testimony of at least 2 of the following factors:

(a) The parent's conduct toward the child has resulted in severe harm to the child.

(b) The parent's conduct toward the child has continued despite the reasonable efforts of authorized agencies in obtaining or providing services for the parent to reduce or alleviate such conduct.

(c) The parent's conduct has continued to occur either over a period of time, or many times, or to such
 a degree so as to indicate a pattern of behavior on the part of the parent which indicates a complete disregard for the child's health and welfare.

(d) Such conduct is likely to continue with no change in parental behavior, attitude or actions.  Testimony shall be provided by any combination of at least 2 of the following people: a licensed psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, a physician, or a social worker who possesses a master's degree in social work and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.

VI. If the parent or guardian is, as a result of incarceration for a felony offense, unable to discharge his responsibilities to and for the child and, in addition, has been found pursuant to RSA 169-C to have abused or neglected his child or children, the court may review the conviction of the parent or guardian to determine whether the felony offense is of such a nature, and the period of incarceration imposed of such duration, that the child would be deprived of proper parental care and protection and left in an unstable or impermanent environment for a longer period of time than would be prudent. Placement of the child in foster care shall not be considered proper parental care and protection for purposes of this paragraph. Incarceration in and of itself shall not be grounds for termination of parental rights.

VII. The parent has been convicted of one or more of the following offenses:

(a) Murder, pursuant to RSA 630:1-a or 630:1-b, of another child of the parent, a sibling or step-sibling of the child, the child's other parent, or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity,
including a minor child who resided with the defendant.

(b) Manslaughter, pursuant to RSA 630:2 , of another child of the parent, a sibling or step-sibling of the child, the child's other parent, or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, including a minor child who resided with the defendant.

(c) Attempt, pursuant to RSA 629:1 , solicitation, pursuant to RSA 629:2 , or conspiracy, pursuant to RSA 629:3 , to commit any of the offenses specified in subparagraphs VII(a) and VII(b).

(d) A felony assault under RSA 631:1 , 631:2 , 632-A:2, or 632-A:3 which resulted in injury to the child, a sibling or step-sibling of the child, the child's other parent, or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity, including a minor child who resided with the defendant.