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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 13, 2013

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Bede Anyanwu, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ifeatu E.

Attorneys 2:

Michael A. Carter, Milan, Tennessee, for the appellees, Siegfried T. and Vernessa T.

Judge(s): HOLDER

In a prior appeal in this case, we reversed the termination of Father’s parental rights and remanded to the trial court for a new hearing on Mother and Stepfather’s amended petition. Following the hearing on remand, the trial court declined to terminate Father’s parental rights, finding that Mother and Stepfather had not proven either proffered ground for abandonment by clear and convincing evidence. Mother and Stepfather appealed. In a divided opinion, a majority of the Court of Appeals concluded that the evidence clearly and convincingly established abandonment by both willful failure to visit and willful failure to support. We hold that Mother and Stepfather established by clear and convincing evidence abandonment by willful failure to visit but failed to establish willful failure to support. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals. Because Mother and Stepfather have demonstrated one ground for termination of Father’s parental rights, we remand the case to the trial court to consider whether termination is in the best interests of the children.