Despite erroneous findings, termination of parental rights affirmed

September 23, 2014

A trial court entered erroneous findings in terminating parental rights of a mother and father concerning two minor children, but the mistakes weren’t significant enough to reverse in a case where the state presented enough evidence to warrant the decision.

The Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of A.S. and C.S. (Minor Children); K.W. (Mother) and B.S. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 48A02-1310-JT-913. The case involves parents who lost their rights after a Madison Circuit Judge ruled termination was in the best interests of the 5- and 4-year-old children.

Both parents had a history of drug use and another child died after ingesting medication prescribed to a relative with whom the parents had been staying. The Department of Child Services eventually severed services for the parents.

Mother objected to trial court findings including that parents took more than a year to initiate court-ordered services; that neither parent had appropriate housing, and that she planned to self-report to a mental health facility.

“We agree with Mother that the record does not contain evidence to support the above findings,” Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote. Nevertheless, the opinion notes the parents’ drug use increased, supporting the conclusion that there was a reasonable probability that conditions which led to the children’s removal would not be remedied.

The court did not err in its determination that termination of parental rights was in the children’s best interests and that DCS’s plan for the children’s care and treatment was satisfactory.



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