Sandy D. McDade


Prior to 1978, Washington allowed trial judges broad discretion to decide, on a case by case basis, the necessity of terminating parental rights. The recently adopted Juvenile Court Act in Cases Relating to Dependency of A Child and the Termination of a Parent and Child Relationship represents a legislative attempt to nurture the family unit by severely limiting trial court discretion. The new law provides standards making judicial termination of parental rights difficult in all cases. The Institute of Judicial Administration and the American Bar Association also have jointly proposed standards limiting trial court discretion in termination proceedings. The ABA proposal, however, differs markedly from the Washington legislation. Attempting to limit the duration of foster care placements, the ABA would require the trial judge to order termination in many cases of extended foster care. This comment contrasts the system of broad discretion under the previous Washington law with the two very different systems of limited discretion embodied in the Juvenile Court Act and the ABA proposal.

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