IN RE BENJAMIN A. - Articles

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Posted by: Amelia Ferrell Knisely on Mar 14, 2016

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

John Wysong, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brent H.

Attorneys 2:

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, and Eugenia Izmaylova, Assistant Attorney General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee Department of Children?s Services.

Kathleen B. Overton, Hixson, Tennessee, Guardian Ad Litem.

Judge(s): FRIERSON

This is a termination of parental rights case, focusing on Benjamin A., the minor child (“the Child”) of Brent H. (“Father”) and Brandice A. (“Mother”). The Child was taken into protective custody by the Tennessee Department of Children?s Services (“DCS”) on November 4, 2010, upon investigation of a spiral fracture to his right arm and suspected child abuse. On December 17, 2013, DCS filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Father. Mother previously had surrendered her parental rights to the Child in June 2013 and is not a party to this appeal. Following a bench trial, the trial court found that statutory grounds existed to terminate the parental rights of Father upon its finding by clear and convincing evidence that Father had (1) abandoned the Child by willfully failing to provide financial support, (2) abandoned the Child by failing to provide a suitable home, and (3) failed to substantially comply with the reasonable responsibilities and requirements of the permanency plans. The court further found by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Father?s parental rights was in the Child?s best interest. Father has appealed. Having determined that, as DCS concedes, the element of willfulness was not proven by clear and convincing evidence as to Father?s failure to support the Child, we reverse the trial court?s finding regarding the statutory ground of abandonment through failure to support. We affirm the trial court?s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Father?s parental rights to the Child.