Bill changes burden of proof for terminating parents' rights
Mar. 21, 2017
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire lawmakers are clarifying the burden of proof the state faces in terminating a parent's rights.
The House Children and Family Law Committee is holding a public hearing Tuesday on a bill that would specify that a court must find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that parental rights should be terminated. Under current law, the standard is clear and convincing evidence, which is a lower burden of proof, though based on case law, the higher standard has been used for years.
The bill, which was requested by the state Supreme Court, passed the Senate last month. Senators described it as a "housekeeping bill," saying that under both state and federal law, parental rights are a liberty, and therefore to terminate them, the higher burden of proof is required.
This story has been corrected to clarify that the higher burden of proof has been standard practice for laws and the bill has a hearing in the House Children and Family Law Committee, not the Judiciary Committee.