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COA reverses termination of parental rights, finds DCS exhibited ‘troubling behavior’

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Wednesday a decision terminating a mother and father’s parental relationships with their son, writing that the Department of Child Services had exhibited an “extraordinarily troubling pattern of behavior.”

In May 2011, the Department of Child Services removed O.G. II from his parents’ home. Father O.G. admitted that both he and mother K.T. would test positive for marijuana, and K.T. admitted there was a history of domestic violence between her and O.G., so O.G. II was adjudicated a child in need of services.

DCS referred K.T. to domestic violence assessments and programs multiple times, and she completed a 26-week program. She also completed anger management classes at her own cost and saw success through home-based therapy sessions.

The boy was returned to his mother on a trial basis in August 2012 and remained in her care until May 2013. The juvenile court entered an order preventing O.G. from having contact with his child in February 2013. However, after O.G. went to K.T.’s home, kicked down her door and attacked her, the boy was removed and O.G. was arrested.

At the time of the termination hearing, K.T. was living with her mother and had a stable job, while O.G. was incarcerated through much of the CHINS case. However, he did complete anger management and parenting classes while in jail. During his incarceration, the assigned family case manager never contacted O.G., and the case manager further failed to comply with the juvenile court’s order that new service referrals be made for him.

DCS moved to terminate the parent-child relationship in May 2015, and the motion was granted in April 2016. Both parents appealed, with O.G. first arguing that his Department of Correction and Putnamville Correctional Facility records should not have been admitted as evidence because they constituted hearsay.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed, with Judge John Baker writing that those records did not meet the business records exception because they did not qualify under Indiana Rules of Evidence 803(6) or 902(11). Further, Baker wrote that the testimony of the guardian ad litem, who testified regarding what O.G. II had told her he wanted, was inadmissible hearsay because there is no known statute excepting GALs from the hearsay rule.

O.G. and K.T. then argued that the evidence was not sufficient to support the termination of their parent-child relationship with their son. The Court of Appeals again agreed, with Baker writing that K.T. had made progress toward her goal of breaking free from her abusive relationship by participating in services and ending her relationship with O.G.

Further, Baker wrote that K.T.’s random drug screens were not problematic and she had taken the initiative to improve her mental health and stability, including finding a place to live and maintaining a job.

Similarly, despite the family case manager’s failure to contact O.G., he completed parenting and anger management classes while in prison and was able to find a job and a place to live, Baker said.

“There is an extraordinarily troubling pattern of behavior in this case,” the judge wrote. “The FCM made little to no effort to contact Father at the initiation of the CHINS case. And then, after DCS made its own internal decision that the case plan was to reunify Child with Mother, the FCM’s minimal efforts to engage Father ceased altogether.”

Thus, the unanimous panel held that the evidence did not support the termination of the parent-child relationship and the decision was remanded for further proceedings.

The case is In re the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of O.G. II (minor child) and K.T. (Mother) & O.G. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A02-1605-JT-1072.
 

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  • I hope the father sue the pants off of indiana cps agency the dcf employee or entire agency
    This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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