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Parental Right Termination

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Case:  In Re Neveah M.

Facts:  The trial court granted foster parents’ petition to terminate the parental rights of the biological mother. The trial court found, among other things, placing the child with the biological mother would pose a risk of substantial harm because the mother had failed to show an ability to assume physical custody and financial responsibility pursuant to TCA 36-1-113(g)(14).

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court reversed, ruling in favor of the biological mother. Although the trial court found the mother lacked the ability to assume custody, the foster parents did not present sufficient evidence that mother also lacked the “willingness” to assume custody as required by the law.

Review Granted:  June 15, 2020.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will remand the case for additional findings on the issue of “willingness.” This is certainly an important requirement of the statute, and it appears from the record, the trial court may not have made the requisite finding, but it is far from clear from the record that the foster parents had not met their burden.