Court affirms termination of parental rights for drug-using mom, dad

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A mother who used methamphetamine while pregnant and continued to abuse drugs after her children were judged in need of services was properly denied parental rights, as was the children’s often-absent father, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The Sullivan Superior Court did not err or abuse discretion in its decisions to place the children with grandparents and revoke parental rights in In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of A.P. & Au.P.; M.H. & T.P. v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services, 77A01-1202-JT-59.

The appeals court noted that mother M.H. passed only four of 53 drug screens under court supervision that resulted from the CHINS adjudication and that father T.P. indicated he was uninterested in services and failed to participate.

“Mother’s strong bond with the children does not eradicate the effects that her continued behavior has and will have upon them. Based upon the family case manager’s and the guardian ad litem’s testimonies, and upon the totality of circumstances … we cannot conclude that the trial court erred in determining that termination is in the children’s best interests,” Judge Rudolph R. Pyle III wrote for the unanimous court.

The court also rejected the father’s and maternal grandmother’s arguments that the father had developed a bond with the children during unauthorized visits. “Given the trial court’s discretion to determine the credibility of evidence, including evidence regarding Father’s continuing pattern of neglect towards the children, we cannot say that the trial court erred in giving credence to the guardian ad litem’s and family case manager’s professional opinions regarding the best interests of the children,” Pyle wrote.



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