Termination of a parent-child relationship in Indiana is done through judicial proceeding that will forever end the legal, social and financial relationship and responsibilities between a parent and child. It means that all power, privilege, immunity, duty and obligation to that child by the parent is totally gone.
Parents can choose to voluntarily terminate their parent-child relationship, but only when the action is initiated by the Department of Child Services or an adoption agency. Cases if involuntary termination are initiated by DCS.
Success in these cases is going to depend on a myriad of factors, not the least of which is the dedication and skill of your Indiana family lawyer.
If a termination of parental rights is granted, the parent does have the option of appeal, and that’s what happened recently in In the Matter of Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.R. and T.R. v. Indiana Department of Child Services.
According to court records, plaintiff/ mother has four children, two of whom are still minors. The youngest child was born in 2010. When the older children were young, DCS was involved with mother for various issues. When the youngest was born, the agency was notified when mother admitted to hospital staffers she used prescription pills and marijuana while pregnant.
When the child was 3-years-old, law enforcement reportedly responded the child was left unattended, strapped in the back seat of a vehicle in 80-degree weather for 35 minutes. Mother was arrested for felony neglect and custody of child went to a relative.
DCS launched investigation and found mother was using K2 spice around the time child was removed. However, mother denied needing drug treatment because she insisted she could quit whenever she chose.
While classifying the girl as a “child in need of services,” the agency did work on reunification. Mother lived with her brother and had no job. Her contact with DCS was irregular and the brother was arrested for methamphetamine possession after a search of the home.
Mother’s subsequent visitation with her daughter was characterized as “irregular,” at least partially because she was in and out of jail for alleged felony thefts and drug-related issues. She was locked up during the CHINS hearing and termination proceedings.
Mother was ordered to undergo mental health evaluation, have contact with her child, attend parenting classes and complete drug treatment.
However, she was sentenced to five years in prison on her pending charges, with two years suspended. She did complete a parenting class, faith based seminar and other programs, but she also had disciplinary issues. She was caught cheating in a literary class and was expelled from that and another program.
In total, mother was locked up for seven months and, over the objections of an appointed child advocate, the two saw each other four times.
Child had been outside her mother’s care for 22 months when a termination hearing was held. She conceded that she hadn’t taken advantage of DCS services, including drug treatment services, mental health evaluation or individual counseling.
The court terminated her parental rights and she appealed. She alleged trial court abused discretion by refusing a 23-day continuance of proceedings until she was released from lockup. She also argued the court erred in termination of rights based on conclusions that issues that led to child’s removal wouldn’t be remedied.
However, the appeals court affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion.
Courts in these cases do value due process for parents, but the primary interest will always be the best interest of the child or children involved. That means having a skilled attorney who is able to convince the family law judge of your commitment and present your actions and intentions in the most favorable light.
Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
In the Matter of Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.R. and T.R. v. Indiana Department of Child Services., Dec. 31, 2015, Indiana Court of Appeals
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Stekr v. Beecham – Deviation from Child Support Guidelines, Oct. 25, 2015, Northwest Indiana Family Law Attorney Blog