43061. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) - Compelling Reasons

Original Date: May 15, 2000 

Revised Date: June 9, 2022

Sunset Review Date: June 30, 2026

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


Initiate a relinquishment or termination of parental rights (TPR) when it is in the best interest of the child and to support timely permanence.


This policy applies to all Division of Children and Family Services staff.


Chapter 11.130 RCW  Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act

RCW 13.34.132  Petition seeking termination of parent-child relationship-Requirements

RCW 13.34.136  Permanency plan of care

RCW 13.34.145  Permanency planning hearing-Purpose-Time limits-Goals-Review hearing-Petition for termination of parental rights-Guardianship petition-Agency responsibility to provide services to parents-Due process rights

RCW 13.34.180  Order terminating parent and child relationship-Petition-Filing-Allegations

Chapter 13.36 RCW  Guardianship  

Chapter 26.33 RCW   Adoption

PL 105-89   Adoption and Safe Families (ASFA) Act 1997


  1. A petition to TPR must be submitted to the Attorney General's office by the child's 12th of the last 19 months in out-of-home care or sooner, when it is in the child's best interest and meets at least one of the following:
    1. The child is determined by the court to be an abandoned child.
    2. The child is in out-of-home care for a period of at least six months since dependency finding.
    3. Aggravated circumstances have been found by the court. The TPR petition must be made within 60 days of this court finding.
  2. A TPR may be considered earlier in the dependency process when aggravated circumstances exist or the parents have failed to engage in services and the child has been in care for 90 days after the disposition.
  3. A petition for TPR is not required when compelling reasons/good cause exist. Compelling reasons/good cause may include, but is not limited to:
    1. Birth parents are making significant progress and reunification (trial return home) will occur within three months.
    2. Birth parent(s) has been accepted and is demonstrating compliance in a dependency treatment court program, long-term substance abuse or dual diagnosis program.
    3. The department has not: 
      1. Provided to the child's family such services as the court and the department have deemed necessary for the child's safe return home.
      2. Discussed both chapter 13.36 RCW guardianship and chapter 11.130 RCW guardianship of a minor as an alternative to TPR and adoption with the child’s caregiver.
    4. The court determined that guardianship is an appropriate permanent plan for the child.
    5. Adoption is not an appropriate permanent plan because:
      1. The child is over the age of 14 and after a discussion about adoption and other permanency options with the child, the child opposes adoption as a permanent plan.
      2. The child is placed with a relative and after a discussion about adoption and other permanency options with the relatives; another permanency option with the relative is in the best interest of the child.
    6. The court or DCYF has determined that:
      1. A birth parent is considering relinquishment within a reasonable time to free the child for adoption.
      2. A non-offending parent is pursuing an alternate permanent plan.
      3. A professional assessment of the child has determined the child is unable to remain within a family setting.
    7. The parent is incarcerated and:
      1. The incarceration is the only reason for filing the TPR; and
      2. The court has determined the parent maintains a meaningful role in the child's life.
    8. The child's Tribe is opposed to adoption and has identified another acceptable permanency plan for the child.
  4. Relinquishment of parental rights may be accepted when adoption is in the child's best interest per Shared Planning Meeting policy. The relinquishment of parental rights of an Indian child must occur before a court judge per ICW Chapter 6.


  1. Utilize shared planning meetings when making permanency planning decisions for children in out-of-home care according to timelines in the Shared Planning Meeting policy.
  2. Determine if relinquishment or TPR is in the best interest of the child by discussing the following with the birth parents:
    1. The option of a voluntary TPR.
    2. The Open Adoption Agreement options between the parent and the prospective adoptive family prior to accepting a relinquishment.
  3. Discuss aggravated circumstances as listed per RCW 13.34.132 with assigned Assistant Attorney General.
  4. Convene a Permanency Planning meeting within 30 days after the court determines aggravated circumstances exist. Identify a permanent planning goal per Permanent and Concurrent Planning policy.
  5. Determine if compelling reasons/good cause exists to not file a petition for TPR.
  6. Document compelling reasons/good cause in the:
    1. Report to the court. The court must approve the compelling reason/good cause exception at each permanency planning hearing and review at all subsequent hearings pertaining to the child.
    2. TPR Compelling Reasons group box in the FamLink Legal Record page.
  7. File a TPR when compelling reasons/good cause no longer exists.
  8. Document the filing of a TPR referral in FamLink Legal Record.


Permanency Planning Matrix DCYF 16-231

Shared Planning Meeting DCYF 14-474


Open Adoption Agreement and Letters of Intent policy

Permanent and Concurrent Planning policy

Shared Planning Meeting policy