Does the Termination of Parental Rights Violate the Parents' Due Process Rights ?

In Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 71 L. Ed. 2d 599, 102 S. Ct. 1388 (1982), the United States Supreme Court considered termination of parental rights procedures under New York law. At issue in Santosky was whether the "fair preponderance of the evidence" standard prescribed by the New York Family Court Act for the termination of parental rights violated the parents' due process rights. 455 U.S. at 747. The Santosky Court made it clear that state intervention to terminate parental rights must be accomplished by procedures meeting the requisites of due process. As the Santosky Court explained, it is "plain beyond the need for multiple citation" that a natural parent's "desire for and right to 'the companionship, care, custody, and management of his or her children'" is an interest far more precious than any property right. . . . "A parent's interest in the accuracy and justice of the decision to terminate his or her parental status is, therefore, a commanding one." Moreover, the Supreme Court stated that the fundamental liberty interest a parent has in the custody and care of his or her child "does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents or have lost temporary custody of their child to the State." 455 U.S. at 753.