IN RE: ALYSIA S. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 18, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Stephen Walker Pate and Mark L. Kent, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mother.

Attorneys 2:

Brad William Hornsby and Heather Graves Parker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellees, Mr. & Mrs. Mitchell.

Susan Gail Cox, Guardian ad Litem.

Judge(s): GIBSON

This is the second appeal before this Court involving the minor child at issue. In 2010, the child’s mother sought assistance in caring for the child after she lost her job. She signed a power of attorney and authorization of temporary guardianship stating that the child would reside with another couple for approximately six months. During that period, the couple filed a petition alleging that the child was dependent and neglected and seeking temporary custody of her. The juvenile court found the child dependent and neglected and granted custody to the couple. The mother appealed to the circuit court, which found no clear and convincing evidence of dependency and neglect and ordered the juvenile court to reunify the child with the mother. On appeal, this Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court. Despite these holdings, the child was never reunified with the mother. The couple with the child filed a petition in the juvenile court to terminate the mother’s parental rights on four grounds. The juvenile court found clear and convincing evidence of abandonment and persistent conditions and determined that it was in the child’s best interest to terminate the mother’s parental rights. The mother appealed. We find no clear and convincing evidence of grounds for termination of the mother’s parental rights and accordingly reverse and remand this matter to the juvenile court for the entry of an order that implements a plan to expeditiously reunite the child with her mother. Having found that the trial court erred in terminating Mother’s parental rights, we dismiss the termination petition, reinstate Mother’s parental rights, vacate the juvenile court orders concerning visitation and guardianship, and designate the current custody and guardianship orders as temporary in nature.