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Appeals court reverses termination of father’s rights

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The Department of Child Services failed to prove that a father’s children were removed for cause required under state statute, and the trial court erred in terminating the parental rights of the Dearborn County man.

In Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of: Q.M. and E.M., Minor Children, B.M., Father v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 15A05-1112-JT-706, the court reversed Dearborn Circuit Judge James D. Humphrey’s order terminating the parental rights of B.M. to his children, ages 3 and 5.

Q.M. showed signs of abuse and, after a DCS investigation, both siblings were designated as children in need of services. B.M. later signed a Stipulation of CHINS agreement wherein he acknowledged that Q.M.’s injuries “would not have occurred but for the act or omission of a parent, custodian, or guardian.” He participated in counseling but failed to successfully complete court-ordered therapy and parenting evaluations. He demonstrated “extreme behavior” that was sanctioned by the court after his 2010 breakup with the children’s mother.

“For example, father sent 96 text messages and made numerous phone calls concerning mother and her whereabouts to the home-based counselor’s personal cell phone and home phone during a single weekend, causing the provider to feel threatened and to request no further work with father,” the court record says.

However, DCS terminated the father’s parental rights without required findings, Judge Elaine Brown wrote in a unanimous opinion.

“An involuntary termination petition must allege, and the state must prove by clear and convincing evidence, that the child was either removed from the parent for at least six months under a dispositional decree or removed from the family home at least fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months ‘at the time the involuntary termination petition was filed,’” Brown wrote.

“Based on the foregoing, it is clear that DCDCS (Dearborn County Indiana Dept. of Child Services) failed to satisfy the mandates of Ind. Code § 31-35-2-4(b)(2)(A). Thus, the trial court committed reversible error in granting DCDCS’s involuntary termination petitions. …  The trial court’s judgment terminating Father’s parental rights to Q.M. and E.M. must be reversed.”

Brown closed with a footnote: “Our decision today should not be construed as a negative comment upon the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the trial court’s specific findings or ultimate decision to terminate father’s parental rights. Moreover, in reaching this decision, we are keenly aware of the fact that both Q.M.’s and E.M.’s sense of permanency and well-being hangs in the balance. Further delay in the final resolution of the children’s cases is most certainly regrettable, but the court is bound by statute to ensure the process.”  



 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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