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COA: mentally handicapped parents not immune from termination proceedings

June 29, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals declined to grant a mother’s request to carve out an exception in involuntary termination of parental rights cases for parents who are mentally handicapped. The Tippecanoe County mother claimed her children shouldn’t be removed from her care because of her mental faculties.

T.B. has two children, who were removed from her care twice because of unsafe living conditions and her inability to comply with Tippecanoe County Department of Child Services therapy and parenting services. During her involvement with DCS, psychological assessments revealed that T.B. has low to well-below average overall cognitive functioning skills, is chronically depressed, and has a mild form of bipolar disorder.

Her parental rights were eventually involuntarily terminated as being in the best interest of the children.

T.B. didn’t challenge any of the evidence supporting the trial court’s specific findings, but makes the sole argument on appeal that “mentally retarded parents should be immune from losing their parental rights.”

Judges are not allowed to terminate parental rights based solely on one’s mental faculties, the appellate court noted in T.B. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 79A04-1110-JT-594, but the law allows for termination of rights when parents are unable or unwilling to meet their responsibilities as parents.

The evidence shows that the trial court’s unchallenged findings clearly and convincingly support its decision to end T.B.’s parental rights.

 

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