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Abstract

This Note advocates the use of the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard of proof in proceedings to terminate parental rights permanently. The Note will commence with background considerations such as the authority of the state to terminate parental rights, the rights of the parties involved in a termination proceeding and a discussion of standards of proof. Consideration will also be given to the factors which should have an impact on the standard of proof in permanent termination proceedings. These factors include: the vagueness of termination statutes, the fundamental right of family integrity, the broad discretionary powers of the courts involved, the need for human service agencies to focus on serving the family as a unit and the symbolic value of the standard of proof. The argument will be made that the use of the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard in these proceedings is appropriate given the interests involved, the needs of the child and the realities of what can be called the termination system.

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