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Thesis

Termination of parental rights: Psychologists' role in protecting the best interes of the child

26 July 2004

Abstract

Termination of parental rights (TPR) effectively dissolves a parent's legal right to his or her child. Termination cases are referred to the court based on standards identified within both federal legislation (ASFA) and state statutes. Psychologists are often asked to complete evaluations to aid the court in decision making (Condie, 2003). In research, psychologists have identified factors that are consistent in TPR cases and have published guidelines for completing parental fitness evaluations (Kuehnle et aI., 2000), Judges' written decisions in appeals of termination of parental rights cases in Oregon were the source of data for this study. It was hypothesized that factors identified by psychologists as important for the determination of parental fitness would not fully coincide with factors used by the judges in these cases. The results indicate that judges form decisions based on only a handful of factors. Further directions in research and clinical approaches are discussed.


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