COA affirms termination of parental rights

A mother and father of 8- and 9-year old children failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that their parental rights were improperly terminated.

Father B.H. and mother M.B. were stripped of parental rights after hearings in White Juvenile Court. Father had about five years remaining on his Department of Correction sentence for stabbing his brother-in-law, and both he and mother had a history of drug abuse. At least one of the children had screened positive for methamphetamine.

The record shows mother had violated probation, tested positive for opiates and meth while the children in need of services case was pending, and had no stable home.

Judge John Baker wrote for the panel affirming termination of parental rights for mother and father in In the Matter of Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of: B.H. and S.H., and B.H. and M.B. v. The Ind. Dept. of Child Services, 91A02-1504-JT-213.

Mother claimed the trial court erred in denying motions for continuances in her termination proceedings, but Baker wrote that those motions were filed the day of the hearing when mother had months of notice of the hearing dates. “We find no abuse of discretion,” Baker wrote. “(W)e find no reason to conclude that Mother was denied a fair hearing, and we decline to reverse on this basis.”

The court also noted that as of February, mother was homeless. “We find that this evidence readily supports the trial court’s conclusion that a continuation of the parent-child relationship poses a threat to the children’s well being,” Baker wrote.

The court also rejected father’s argument that his incarceration was the sole basis for terminating his parental rights. “Father’s children were five and seven years old when he stabbed their uncle in their presence,” Baker wrote. “He was also dealing in methamphetamine and using methamphetamine, contributing to an environment that led to his seven-year-old testing positive for methamphetamine. … Therefore, the fact of Father’s incarceration was not the sole evidence supporting termination.”

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