Assigned on Briefs May 1, 2018
from the Juvenile Court for Bradley County No. J-13-518
Daniel R. Swafford, Judge
termination of parental rights case, the Department of
Children's Services filed a petition to terminate the
rights of R.T. with respect to his child, D.T. At trial, DCS
alleged a single ground for termination: persistence of
conditions. The court found clear and convincing evidence. By
the same quantum of proof, the court also found that
termination is in the child's best interest. Father
appeals. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Juvenile
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Jonathan Wilson, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter, and
Erin Shackelford and Kathryn Baker, Assistant Attorneys
General, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Tennessee
Department of Children's Services.
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which Richard H. Dinkins, and Kenny W. Armstrong,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE
mother of the child is a user of methamphetamine. On August
15, 2014, as a result of allegations regarding mother's
drug use, DCS took custody of the child. The mother was
provided with a no-contact order. Pursuant to the order, she
was not to interact with the child until she completed her
permanency plan and submitted a clean hair follicle drug
screen. DCS made efforts to render father a suitable
placement. After efforts from both father and DCS, on April
25, 2015, the child was placed in the father's care for a
trial home placement period. On July 25, 2015, custody of the
child was placed with father.
violated the no-contact order on two documented occasions.
First, on September 27, 2015, mother came to a public park
where father and the child's family were having a
birthday party. Mother was asked to leave. Second, on October
21, 2015, father took mother to her probation officer
appointment. Father allowed mother to take the child with her
to the appointment. Mother tested positive for
methamphetamine and amphetamine at the appointment.
received a referral alleging a drug-exposed child. The child
was subsequently removed from father's care based upon
allegations that he failed to protect the child from the
mother, and that he failed to follow the court's
no-contact order. The father alleges that he did not know the
no-contact order was still in effect at the time of the
probation appointment. He maintains that, even during the
appointment, the child never left his sight. On November 24,
2015, the child was adjudicated dependent and neglected. The
termination petition was filed on January 31, 2017.
regarding the condition of father's home was heard by the
trial court; however, DCS did not allege environmental
neglect in its petition for termination. DCS admitted that
the home's condition would not rise to a level warranting
completed all steps of his permanency plan. Father maintains
that he will not allow the mother to be around the child.
However, the veracity of this contention is questionable
based upon his testimony at the termination hearing. Father
testified that he believes his son has a right to see his
mother. He testified that he helps mother with efforts to
address her drug problem. He allows mother to enter his home
to do laundry, take a shower, or stay the night when it's
raining or cold outside. Father remains mother's means of
transportation from time-to-time. DCS contacts father to
reach mother, as he purportedly often knows her whereabouts.
Mother indicated father as her transportation plan on her
permanency plan and listed his address as her contact for
DCS. At some point when the no-contact order was still in
place, Mother sought permission to move in next door to
father's residence. In essence, mother appears to still
rely upon father and interact with him. Father has ultimately
failed to demonstrate a definitive willingness to remove
mother from his and the child's lives pending
mother's ability to stop using drugs.
issues are presented for ...