ILNews

End of parental rights not based on disability

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the involuntary termination of a couple's rights to their children, ruling the final order was valid even without the presiding magistrate judge's signature, and the fact the mother has a hearing disability was not a reason why the mother's parental rights were ended.

In R.W. Sr. (father) and D.B.W. (mother) v. Marion County Dept. of Child Services, et al., No. 49A04-0801-JV-64, married parents R.W. Sr. and D.B.W. challenged the court's decision to terminate their parental rights over their children, of which R.W. Sr. was the father of only R.W. Jr.

The two raised several issues on appeal, including whether the final order was valid because the presiding magistrate judge didn't sign it, whether the state met the statutory requirements to terminate the parental rights, and whether the state terminated D.B.W.'s parental rights because she has a hearing disability.

The children were removed from the home because of unsafe living conditions after R.W. Jr. was found roaming outside his house alone. The parents completed some court-ordered services, such as parenting classes and home-based counseling, but they didn't progress toward being allowed to have unsupervised visits. They also didn't comply with all the court-ordered services.

The children had been out of the home for more than three years when Magistrate Judge Danielle Gaughan presided over the fact-finding hearing and terminated the couple's parental rights in early 2008. Marion Superior Judge Marilyn Moores was the only one to sign the judgment.

D.B.W. argues this requires the order to be reversed because the order is technically deficient, but nothing in Indiana Code requires a magistrate judge to sign the final order, only to report his or her findings to the trial court, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

After reviewing the juvenile court's record, the Court of Appeals found that court did not base its decision to terminate D.B.W.'s parental rights based on the fact she has a significant hearing disability that challenges her ability to communicate with her children. Instead, the court considered her refusal to take the necessary steps to bridge communication - adjust her hearing aids or learn sign language, Judge Friedlander wrote.

The appellate court also found the juvenile court met all the statutory requirements necessary for termination of the couple's parental rights, and that it was in the best interest of the children that they remain outside of the home, the judge wrote.
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  1. Im very happy for you, getting ready to go down that dirt road myself, and im praying for the same outcome, because it IS sometimes in the childs best interest to have visitation with grandparents. Thanks for sharing, needed to hear some positive posts for once.

  2. Been there 4 months with 1 paycheck what can i do

  3. our hoa has not communicated any thing that takes place in their "executive meetings" not executive session. They make decisions in these meetings, do not have an agenda, do not notify association memebers and do not keep general meetings minutes. They do not communicate info of any kind to the member, except annual meeting, nobody attends or votes because they think the board is self serving. They keep a deposit fee from club house rental for inspection after someone uses it, there is no inspection I know becausee I rented it, they did not disclose to members that board memebers would be keeping this money, I know it is only 10 dollars but still it is not their money, they hire from within the board for paid positions, no advertising and no request for bids from anyone else, I atteended last annual meeting, went into executive session to elect officers in that session the president brought up the motion to give the secretary a raise of course they all agreed they hired her in, then the minutes stated that a diffeerent board member motioned to give this raise. This board is very clickish and has done things anyway they pleased for over 5 years, what recourse to members have to make changes in the boards conduct

  4. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  5. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

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