Juvenile Law

Shawn R. McCarver, Esquire

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) for failure to rectify affirmed where child was in care for many years, conditions which led to assumption of jurisdiction still existed and there was little likelihood that the conditions would be remedied at an early date. The court properly evaluated the four aggravating factors, and the considered the impact of present conduct on the potential for future harm. TPR held in the best interests of the child even though there was mutual love and the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) opposed TPR. In Interest of I.G.P., No. 74598 (Mo. App. W.D., June 12, 2012), Smart, Jr., J.

Mother appeals the termination of parental rights to child born in 2005, which was granted for failure to rectify. Children’s Division had a history with Mother’s other children prior to birth of the child at issue in this case, and this child was removed when Mother attempted to commit suicide. Mother drank alcohol, ingested Tylenol with codeine, and cut herself. The children were discovered covered in Mother’s blood and sitting in the glass Mother used to cut herself. Child was taken into custody in November 2006 and jurisdiction under § 211.031 was assumed January 2007. In addition to services Mother received prior to the birth of this child, Mother was provided services for this child which included counseling, substance abuse treatment, and psychiatric care. Mother relapsed repeatedly, was discharged from various programs, and suffered from various mental health issues. Mother refused certain services and deteriorated psychiatrically. A 2007 trial home placement which lasted six months failed and Mother continued to fail to complete or progress in treatment. In 2008, Mother attempted suicide again and thereafter was offered various services. Mother failed to progress in those services. The Division continued to work toward reunification as late as 2009 and 2010, but Mother failed to maintain sobriety, relapsed and did not regularly attend therapy or other treatment.

The child was in care greater than one year, and the court properly found that the conditions that led to assumption of jurisdiction still existed and that there was little likelihood that the conditions would be remedied at an early date to allow reunification. The trial court properly evaluated the four aggravating factors, finding that Mother failed to comply with the service plan in many respects, that the Division’s efforts to aid Mother in reunification had failed and that Mother suffered from both severe chemical dependence and mental illness which rendered her incapable of providing minimally acceptable care for the child. The trial court then properly considered that Mother’s past acts predicted future harm as required by the K.A.W. case. Thus, the court found sufficient evidence supported the failure to rectify ground.

The court also found that TPR was in the best interests of the child. Despite mutual love and emotional ties, the trial court found that continuation of the parent child relationship greatly diminished the child’s prospects for early integration into a stable and permanent home. The GAL testified that TPR should not occur, but the GAL had only met with the child once since 2009. Further the GAL’s testimony did not address safety and environmental concerns for the child. Additional services were not likely to result in reunification in light of Mother’s history in not completing services previously offered. TPR was in the best interests of the child. Termination affirmed.

A finding of jurisdiction under § 211.031 is remanded, where additional evidence may be received, where the trial court failed to make findings of fact in support of its exercise of jurisdiction. In Interest of T.B.L.T., No. 97393 (Mo. App. E.D., June 12, 2012), Romines, J.

The juvenile officer filed a petition requesting jurisdiction over child under § 211.031 because the child was “without proper care, custody and support.” A hearing was held at which it was determined that the child was residing with Mother in Mother’s boyfriend’s home where the manufacture of methamphetamine was occurring. Mother’s witness testified that Mother was not living with her boyfriend and that Mother’s home was suitable for child. Mother appeals and asserts that the judgment fails to comply with the finding of fact component of § 211.181. The trial court’s judgment merely recited that Mother failed to provide proper care, custody and support as alleged in the petition. Given the evidence at the hearing, the court of appeals said that it was “inexcusable” that the trial court did not make findings of fact to support the exercise of jurisdiction. The court noted a similar deficiency in the findings on the issue of reasonable efforts. Remanded so that additional evidence may be received.