IN RE DESTANEY D. ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Brittany Sims on Jun 24, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Larry G. Roddy, Dayton, Tennessee, for the appellant, William D.

Attorneys 2:

Randy Sellers, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellees, Amy M. and Jeremy M.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

This is a termination of parental rights action involving two minor children, Destaney D. and Rebekah D. (?the Children?). In April 2012, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (?DCS?) removed the Children from their mother due to her drug use. The Children were allowed to remain in the care of Amy M. and Jeremy M., a married couple with whom the Children had been residing following their mother’s arrest. On February 21, 2014, Amy M. and Jeremy M. (?the Petitioners?) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of the Children’s parents. The petition alleged, as a statutory ground for termination, abandonment by willful failure to support. The Petitioners subsequently filed an amended petition alleging the additional statutory ground of persistence of the conditions leading to removal. Despite being properly served with process, the Children’s mother failed to answer the petition or otherwise make an appearance in this matter. The trial court accordingly terminated her parental rights by default judgment entered on July 21, 2014. She is not a party to this appeal. Following a bench trial on the merits, the trial court granted the petition as to the father upon finding that the Petitioners had proven by clear and convincing evidence the grounds of (1) abandonment by willful failure to support and (2) persistence of the conditions leading to removal. The court also found clear and convincing evidence that termination of the father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. The father has appealed. Having determined that the statutory ground of persistence of conditions is inapplicable to the present action, we reverse the trial court’s determination as to this ground. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of the father’s parental rights.