IN RE SELENA L. ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Jul 27, 2016

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Rachel Fisher, Cohutta, Georgia, for the appellant, Brandy L.

Attorneys 2:

Hanna Stokes, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Vickie R.

This is a termination of parental rights case regarding the parental rights of the mother, Brandy L. (“Mother”) to her minor children, Selena L. and Isabella H., ages five and two respectively when the termination action was filed (collectively, “the Children”). Mother voluntarily placed Selena L. in the custody of a relative in 2009, shortly after the child’s birth. On April 13, 2012, the Hamilton County Juvenile Court (“juvenile court”) placed the Children into the custody of the maternal great-grandmother, Vickie R. (“Petitioner”), upon Petitioner’s filing an action for custody. On August 25, 2014, Petitioner filed petitions in the Bradley County Circuit Court (“trial court”) seeking to terminate the parental rights of Mother and to adopt the Children. Following a bench trial, the court terminated Mother’s parental rights to the Children after determining by clear and convincing evidence that Mother had abandoned the Children by: (1) willfully failing to visit them, (2) willfully failing to financially support them, and (3) exhibiting a wanton disregard toward their welfare. The trial court further found by clear and convincing evidence that terminating Mother’s parental rights was in the best interest of the Children. Mother has appealed. We reverse the trial court’s finding that Mother abandoned the Children by willfully failing to support them during the determinative four-month period. We affirm the trial court’s judgment in all other respects, including the termination of Mother’s parental rights to the Children.