IN RE DONTE N. ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Jan 17, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Gregory E. Bennett, Seymour, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lawrence P.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter, and Alexander S. Rieger, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on the three minor children (“the Children”) of father, Lawrence P. (“Father”). A termination petition was filed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”), alleging the statutory grounds of abandonment by willful failure to visit, abandonment by willful failure to support, and abandonment by engaging in conduct prior to incarceration showing a wanton disregard for the welfare of the Children. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition upon its findings, by clear and convincing evidence, that (1) Father had abandoned the Children by willfully failing to support them and (2) Father had abandoned the Children by engaging in conduct prior to his incarceration exhibiting a wanton disregard for the welfare of the Children. The court further found, by clear and convincing evidence, that termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Father has appealed. Although we reverse the trial court’s finding regarding the ground of abandonment for willful failure to support for lack of adequate evidence, we affirm the judgment of the trial court terminating Father’s parental rights based upon the statutory ground of abandonment by engaging in conduct prior to incarceration showing a wanton disregard for the welfare of the Children.

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