In re B.A. et al.
Assigned on Briefs September 4, 2019
from the Chancery Court for McNairy County No. A-295 Martha
B. Brasfield, Chancellor
appeals the termination of his parental rights to two
children, B.A. and K.A. The trial court considered six
grounds for termination: (1) persistent conditions, pursuant
to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3)(A); (2) severe child
abuse, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(4); (3)
sentencing to more than two years for conduct against a
child, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(5); (4)
sentencing to ten years or more and child under eight years
of age, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(6);
(5) non-compliance with a permanency plan, pursuant to Tenn.
Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2); and (6) abandonment,
pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1). The court
did not find sufficient evidence to support termination of
father's parental rights for abandonment. The court found
clear and convincing evidence on the other five grounds. By
the same quantum of proof, the court also found that
termination is in the children's best interest. Father
appeals. We affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
L. Lowrance, Selmer, Tennessee, for the appellant, J.A.
Brown, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellees, T.M. and F.M.
Melissa G. Stewart, Savannah, Tennessee, Guardian ad Litem
for B.A. and K.A.
appearance by or on behalf of mother, L.P.
Charles D. Susano, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the
court, in which Andy D. Bennett and Carma Dennis McGee, JJ.,
CHARLES D. SUSANO, JR., JUDGE.
the biological father of the two children, B.A. and K.A. L.P.
is the children's mother. F.M. is the children's
maternal aunt; she is married to T.M. On October 16, 2014,
Hardin County Juvenile Court granted F.M. legal and physical
custody of B.A.; she and her husband have retained custody of
B.A. since the entry of that order. On March 3, 2015, the
court held that K.A. was dependent and neglected, and granted
F.M. legal and physical custody of K.A.; she and her husband
have retained custody of K.A. since the entry of that order.
April 21, 2015, B.A. was held to be a drug exposed child.
Specifically, the court held that father was positive on a
nail follicle drug test for amphetamine, methamphetamine,
cocaine, and opiates. The court also found that B.A. was
positive for cocaine and its metabolites on a hair follicle
drug screen. Accordingly, the court held that, as to B.A.,
mother and father had committed severe child abuse. The trial
court set child support for each parent in the amount of
$430.00 per month, effective May 1, 2015. The court further
set forth a list of requirements for the parents to complete
prior to receiving additional visitation or custody.
August 15, 2017, T.M. and F.M. filed a petition to terminate
mother and father's parental rights. On October 16, 2017,
the court appointed a guardian ad litem. On April 24, 2018,
T.M. and F.M. filed an amended petition. On June 25, 2018,
the court entered a default judgment terminating mother's
parental rights; T.M. and F.M. were granted partial
guardianship and legal custody of B.A. and K.A.
December 7, 2018, father filed his answer. On December 10,
2018, a hearing was held on the petition. In the resulting
order terminating father's parental rights, the court
held that the petitioners had proven by clear and convincing
evidence five grounds for termination:
(a) Child removed from the home for 6 months and conditions
persist § 36-1-113(g)(3)(A). [J.A.] testified that he
had been on drugs since he was 12 years old and his drug use
occurred before the children were born and continued after
they were born.
(b) Severe child abuse or failure to protect any child §
36-1-113(g)(4). A certified copy of the Juvenile Court of
Hardin County Tennessee in Docket Number 14-JV-1544 was
admitted into evidence as exhibit #2 showing that [J.A.]
tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, cocaine and
opiates. The Court found that the child, [B.A.], was positive
for cocaine/metabolites on a hair follicle drug test and was
subjected to severe abuse by both her parents.
(c) Sentenced to more than two (2) years for conduct against
a child § 36-1-113(g)(5); [J.A.] testified that as a
result of severe abuse as to [B.A.] he received and pled to a
sentence of 8 years to serve one (1) year in either jail or
rehab and the remainder on probation.
(d) Sentenced to ten (10) years or more and child under eight
(8) years of age § 36-1-113(g)(6); [J.A.] testified that
he was found guilty in Hardin County Tennessee of possessing
a firearm while committing a dangerous felony and was
sentence to serve 15 ...