ILNews

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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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