Robbing the Cradle: The Use of Mediation in Parental Rights Termination with Evidence of Drug Abuse by the Mother

M. Katherine Kerbs

Drug abuse is one of the most prevalent epidemics in our country. Drug use among mothers creates the possibility that they will find themselves defending their parental rights in front of a judge. In one study, 8.3 percent of women between 15 and 44 had used illegal drugs.1 This percentage nearly doubled to 15.1 percent in women between the ages of 15 and 17.2 The court system can be intimidating for people encountering it for the first time and is too formulaic for the intricate problems caused by drug abuse. Mediation, an alternative dispute resolution method, is more informal than court proceedings, provides the right balance of court authority, and solves problems creatively to create conditions in which mothers can overcome drug addictions and be reunited with their children. This Comment will explore the use of mediation in termination of parental rights proceedings where there is evidence of drug abuse by the parents.

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