Termination of Parental Rights

Issues: Docket No. 321923 - Respondent-father - Termination of parental rights to the child under §§ 19b(3)(a)(ii), (c)(i), (c)(ii), (g), & (j); In re White; The child's best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re Moss Minors; Placement with a relative; In re Mason; Docket No. 322912 - Respondent-mother - Termination of parental rights to the children under §§ 19b(3)(a)(ii), (c)(i), (c)(ii), (g), & (j); In re Hudson; Reunification; In re Frey; "Plain error" review; In re Utrera; In re LE; In re Newman; The children's best interests; Request for an adjournment; Soumis v. Soumis; Woodington v. Shokoohi; MCR 3.973(D)(3); MCR 3.973(D)(2); In re Vasquez; MCR 3.923(G); Titan Ins. Co. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.; "Good cause"; Claim that the trial court had an obligation to call the mother on the phone to ascertain her whereabouts; Wilson v. Taylor; Abandoned issue

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Crippen

e-Journal Number: 59732

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Hoekstra, Markey, and Donofrio

 

In Docket No. 321923, the trial court did not clearly err in determining that termination of the respondent-father's parental rights was in the child's (PMC) best interests. In Docket No. 322912, it properly terminated the respondent-mother's parental rights to her children (PMC & ZMP) where the statutory grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing evidence and termination was in the children's best interests. As to the father, the evidence showed that he was without suitable housing, was living with his sister, and needed assistance to obtain housing. Moreover, he had no bond with PMC. Shortly after PMC was born in 2010, the father stopped visiting her because he did not want to interact with the mother. "When he was first notified of the hearing in 2013 and given a chance to reconnect with PMC, he failed to appear in court." He did not pursue care or custody of PMC until one year after she was adjudicated a temporary court ward. Despite his claim to the contrary, his actions showed that he was not committed to caring for PMC. Thus, the trial court did not clearly err in its best-interests determination. As to the mother, the court held that by the time of the permanent custody hearing, she had not addressed any of the issues that led to PMC's and ZMP's adjudication and placed them at risk of harm (domestic violence, drug issues, mental health issues, parenting issues, and suitable housing). She also failed to show that she could provide proper care and custody of them. Given all of these unaddressed issues that continued from the time of the adjudication, which exposed PMC and ZMP to risk of harm and prevented the mother from providing proper care or custody, termination of her parental rights was proper under §§ (c)(i), (g), and (j). Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion

Issues: Termination under §§ 19b(3)(c)(i) & (g); In re Olive/Metts Minors; In re JK; In re Powers Minors; In re Miller; In re Sours Minors; In re Dahms; In re Hulbert; The child's best interests

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Hopfinger

e-Journal Number: 59735

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Owens, Jansen, and Murray

 

The trial court properly terminated the respondent-mother's parental rights to the child (BH) where the statutory grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing evidence and termination was in BH's best interests. The trial court did not err in finding that she had not rectified the conditions of substance abuse and inability to provide a stable home for BH that caused the adjudication. As to § (c)(i), based on the evidence, it was reasonable for the trial court to conclude that, considering that BH "had been in foster care for the majority of his young life, he could no longer continue to wait for respondent's substance abuse issues to be resolved." The other issue that led to adjudication was her inability to provide proper housing. Homelessness was an identified issue when the initial CPS case began. Throughout this case there were periods of time when she was merely staying with different friends. When she did have housing, it was almost exclusively tied to baby-sitting jobs. The trial court described her housing situation as "tenuous," which was not unreasonable for it to conclude in light of her history. As to § (g), respondent did have adequate housing at the time of the termination hearing. Also, no party questioned her ability to parent. However, throughout the proceedings her procurement of housing was consistently tied to having a baby-sitting job, and past baby-sitting jobs had not shown an ability to last. Further, while she recognized her lack of a GED as an employment barrier, she did not take serious steps toward getting one despite the availability of help from the DHS. Thus, the trial court's conclusion on these statutory factors was not clearly erroneous. Also, its best-interests determination was supported by the record. BH needed stability and despite the fact that this case had gone on for two years, respondent had not reached a point where she could provide for him as he needed. Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion

Issues: Termination under §§ 19(3)(g) & (j); In re White; In re Hudson; In re Baby X; Reunification; The child's best interests; In re Olive/Metts Minors

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re Whitmore

e-Journal Number: 59734

Judge(s): Per Curiam – Hoekstra, Markey, and Donofrio

 

The trial court properly terminated the respondent-mother's parental rights to the child where the statutory grounds for termination were established by clear and convincing evidence and termination was in the child's best interests. It did not clearly err in finding that § (g) was established by clear and convincing evidence. Respondent failed to provide proper care or custody for the child by using cocaine during her pregnancy, which exposed him to a risk of harm and caused him to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms following his birth. "Prenatal drug use is evidence of neglect." The trial court did not clearly err in finding that she did not substantially comply with reunification services as ordered. Respondent failed to "obtain psychiatric and substance abuse evaluations to assess her needs, refused to cooperate with a life-skills worker, cooperated with a Families First worker but failed to benefit because she minimized her problems, failed to complete outpatient and inpatient substance abuse treatment, and continued to use drugs as shown by both positive drug screens and her admissions to a CPS worker." Respondent "made no effort to obtain a legal source of income and did not maintain stable, suitable housing." Her "last-minute attempt to participate in counseling was of little significance; she attended only one appointment, there was no evidence that she continued with treatment, and the therapist gave no prognosis for her recovery." A parent's "failure to participate in and benefit from a service plan is evidence that the parent will not be able to provide a child with proper care and custody." Thus, the trial court did not clearly err in finding that she was not reasonably likely to be able to provide proper care and custody within a reasonable time considering the child's age. It also did not clearly err in finding that § (j) was established by clear and convincing evidence. Respondent, who had "a long-term history of drug abuse, subjected the child to a risk of harm by using cocaine during her pregnancy. She minimized her drug problem, did not successfully complete inpatient or outpatient treatment, and continued to use drugs. She attended family visits while under the influence of substances and her condition was sometimes so bad that she could not be allowed to hold the child." The evidence showed that he was reasonably likely to be harmed if returned to her custody. Affirmed.

 

Full Text Opinion
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