Court rules on parental rights terminations

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals today ruled for the first time on an aspect of a state statute dictating when the Department of Child Services can initiate parental rights termination proceedings.

A unanimous decision today affirms a trial court judgment in the case of In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of A.B. and Dawn B. v. Department of Child Services, No. 02A03-0712-JV-599.

The appellant-respondent's daughter, when she was 6, was hospitalized in 2002 for violent, uncontrollable behavior and the Allen County DCS started investigating a later report that the woman's two kids engaged in sexual behavior. The trial court declared the daughter to be a child in need of services. Years later after the girl was placed in a children's home, the DCS filed a petition to end the mother's parental rights. That happened in August 2007.

Specifically, the appeal involves Indiana Code Section 31-34-1-16 that provides the DCS "may not...initiate a court proceeding to ... terminate the parental rights concerning ... a child with an emotional, behavioral, or a mental disorder ... who is voluntarily placed out of the home for the purposes of obtaining a special treatment or care, solely because the parent, guardian, or custodian, is unable to provide the treatment or care."

While the girl was voluntarily removed from the home in this case, the court determined that the Allen County DCS initiated termination proceedings because the mother had also refused to cooperate with service providers and failed to participate in counseling to address her own mental issues - making her both unable and unwilling to provide adequate care for the child.

However, the court wrote in a footnote that this decision leaves open a question for the legislature or DCS: "How the state will provide long-term care for a child in need of services where, under the statute, parental rights may not be terminated, but where the parents, through no fault of their own, are unable and permanently incapable of becoming able to care for their special needs child."

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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well