Children - § 3-2 (J) - § 3-3 (A) - Part 2

§ 3-3. Parent-Child

(A) Termination of Parental Rights

2018---King v. King George Dept. of Social Servs., Va. Ct. of Appeals, No. 0164-18-2
The trial court did not err in terminating Father’s parental rights pursuant to Code of Virginia § 16.1-283(E)(iii), which provides that a parent’s parental rights may be terminated if the court finds that, among other things, the parent “has been convicted of an offense under the laws of the Commonwealth . . . that constitutes felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury or felony bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury . . ., if the victim of the offense was a child of the parent . . . at the time of such offense.” The Court of Appeals has previously held that the statute’s focus on crimes that result in serious bodily injury indicates that the legislature is not as concerned with the nomenclature or the elements of the crime itself, but rather with the effect the crime had on the child-victim. Here, Father was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after he left the child unattended in a tub of running water, resulting in the child’s death. Father’s conduct constituted a felonious crime that resulted in a serious bodily injury to the child so as to satisfy Code § 16.1-283(E)(iii)’s requirements for termination of his parental rights.

2012—Layne v. Layne, 61 Va. App. 32Va. Ct. of Appeals, No. 2175-11-3
The trial court erred in finding that the mother’s parental rights had been terminated by a settlement agreement. Although the parties entered into a property settlement agreement in which mother relinquished her parental rights to the child, and although said agreement was incorporated into a final order of divorce, Va. Code § 16.1-283 must be strictly complied with in order to terminate parental rights. Here, none of the procedural or substantive requirements of the statute were met by the mere inclusion of the language in the parties’ agreement nor by the incorporation of that agreement into a final order of divorce.

2012—Ferrell v. Alexandria Department of Community & Human Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0155-12-4
The trial court did not err in terminating mother’s parental rights to her youngest child pursuant to an Entrustment Agreement, despite her latest efforts to obtain employment and housing, when mother’s past actions with respect to her three older children indicated that the youngest child was at risk of being abused and neglected by mother. A psychological evaluation revealed that mother had inadequate coping skills and limited cognitive abilities, which led to impulsivity and poor decision-making. In addition, mother stopped her individual therapy sessions and stopped taking her psychotropic medications in spite of the evaluator’s recommendation. Moreover, mother failed to recognize any deficiencies in her parenting and believed she was adequately taking care of her children.

2007—Battle v. City of Portsmouth Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 0593-06-1
Trial court did not err in terminating both Mother’s and Father’s parental rights under Va. Code §16.1-283(B) and Va. Code §16.1-283(C). Mother’s overwhelming addiction to illicit drugs was the basis for the abuse and neglect determination by the Portsmouth Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. Additionally, Father’s mental deficiency is of such severity that there is no reasonable expectation that he will be able to undertake responsibility for the child. Nothing in the record suggested additional time will make either parent able to properly care for the child. In the twenty-three months that the child had been in foster care, neither parent had completed the services offered to remedy the problems that brought the child into foster care.

2007—Buchanan v. Bedford County Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2318-06-3
Trial judge did not err in terminating appellant’s residual parental rights to her minor child pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2). Mother was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and schizophrenia with delusional episodes, and suffers from alcoholism, and child was born with severe medical problems. Mother missed meetings convened by family assessment and planning teams as well as individual counseling sessions and a substance abuse evaluation, did not attend parenting classes, lived in inappropriate housing, and was unemployed. In general, Mother was unable to show any progress in meeting the child’s needs.

2007—Caddell v. Spotsylvania Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2307-06-2
Trial court did not err in terminating Father’s parental rights. Father was incarcerated for sexual crimes involving his stepson and acknowledged extensive alcohol and marijuana use. Father also revealed prior convictions for driving under the influence, domestic violence, and sexual battery. Additionally, Father had no plans for housing or employment upon his release from prison.

2007—Hart v. Arlington County Department of Human Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1653-06-4
Trial court did not err in by terminating parental rights pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283. Department of Human Services proved by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Father’s parental rights was in his child’s best interest. The evidence proved that the child lived with his Mother until the Mother was no longer able to care for him. During that time, Father’s whereabouts were unknown. When Father requested custody after the child as placed in foster care, Department of Human Services found that Father’s criminal history included “barrier crimes” that prevented Department of Human Services from placing the child in Hart’s care. Also, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion for continuance so that Father could have additional time to assist counsel and for family members to file for custody before his parental rights were involuntarily terminated. The evidence showed Father never gave the names of his relatives to Department of Human Services and that even when his relatives heard that the child was in foster care, they did not inquire about the child or file a petition for custody.

2007—Jackson v. City of Portsmouth Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2757-06-1
Trial court did not err in by terminating parental rights pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283. At the time of the termination hearing, the child had been in foster care for more than two years. During that period, appellant made no provisions for or made any contact with the child. The evidence proved appellant completely failed to avail herself of the assistance and resources provided by Department of Social Services. Appellant did not maintain contact with Department of Social Services or with the attorney representing her in the termination action.

2007—Kasey v. Roanoke City Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 2896-06-3
Trial judge did not err in terminating appellant’s parental rights under Va. Code §16.1-283(B) and Va. Code §16.1-283(C). Both children have significant special needs that require highly competent skills, which Mother simply does not possess. Mother’s lack of parenting skills was revealed not only by her psychological evaluation, but also through her impact on the children, both of whom shared a “trauma bond.” Based upon such evidence, the trial court properly concluded that it was not reasonably likely that the conditions which resulted in the children’s neglect or abuse could be substantially corrected or eliminated so as to allow their safe return to Mother within a reasonable period of time.

2007—Luciano v. City of Hampton Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 169
Trial judge did not err in terminating appellant’s parental rights under Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2). The evidence sufficiently proved that he was unwilling or unable within a reasonable period of time to remedy substantially the conditions causing the child to be placed in Department of Social Services custody. He failed to participate in and/or complete programs and services offered by Department of Social Services. He never found safe housing for the child. He was unemployed. He did not maintain contact with Department of Social Services. He had difficulty managing his anger. He was unstable as reflected by his recent attempt to commit suicide. He suffered from mental conditions requiring treatment and management.

2007—Rothgeb v. Harrisonburg Rockingham Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 23
Trial court did not err in terminating Mother’s parental rights to her three children pursuant to Va. Code Section 16.1-283(B). Evidence showed, inter alia, the children were subjected to repeated instances of physical abuse by Father, and Mother failed to protect them; Mother and Father often engaged in physical violence with each other in view of the children; the children were found to be inadequately supervised on numerous occasions; while she was in training with the National Guard she did not maintain contact with the children; all the children had special needs; and Mother demonstrated inadequate parenting skills.

2007—Shallcros's v. Hanover County Department of Social Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1861-06-2
Trial court did not err in terminating Mother’s parental rights pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(B). Mother, an admitted alcoholic, made no effort to follow the treatment recommendations as Department of Social Services required. In fact, after the child entered foster care, Mother continued to drink and to engage in behavior resulting in criminal convictions. Mother was incarcerated for a significant portion of time while the child was in foster care.

2007—Snead v. City of Hampton Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 12
Trial court did not err in terminating appellant’s parental rights to her child pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(B) and Va. Code §16.1-283(C). Mother was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and denied being pregnant until the day the child was born and at times later still denied she had a child. Expert testified that Mother was unable to plan appropriately, unable to understand what she sees, and unable to execute a response to events. Mother was unable to complete or even begin recommended services offered to her and often went without taking her medication.

2007—Sprouse v. Orange County Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 79 Trial court did not err in terminating father’s parental rights under Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(1) and Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2) where the record indicated that it would be in the child’s best interest by clear and convincing evidence.

2007—Sylvia v. Hampton Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 109
Trial court did not err in by terminating parental rights pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2). While Mother completed most of the Department of Social Services recommendations, she still did not have the cognitive ability to care for the child. She could not tell time, thus imperiling the child’s need to be fed and timely given medication. The evidence clearly proves that additional time would not remedy Mother’s cognitive functioning nor her inability to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of the child.

2007—Trent v. Prince Edward County Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 168
Trial judge did not err in terminating appellant’s parental rights under Va. Code §16.1-283(B). At the time of the termination hearing, the child was forty-six months old and had spent forty-one of those forty-six months in foster care. The child was first removed from Mother at four months of age when it was discovered the child had shaken baby syndrome. The baby was removed again when Mother was found to be with her estranged boyfriend in violation of a condition of the child’s return to Mother’s custody. Additionally, following a weekend visit Mother returned the child with a third-degree burn. Despite the provision of rehabilitative services, Mother failed to show that she is capable of resuming responsibility in caring for the child.

2007—Watkins v. City of Hampton Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 268
Trial court did not err in termination of Father’s parental rights pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2). The termination hearing occurred while Father was incarcerated. Department of Social Services attempted to reunite the two children with their Mother, but her parental rights were eventually terminated. Father failed to maintain any contact with the children while he was in incarcerated. Father failed to participate in substance abuse counseling or job training while he was incarcerated. After Father was released from incarceration, he did not secure employment, but was arrested and convicted on a new charge.

2007—Wilson v. Fairfax County Department of Family Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 116
Trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s motion to vacate the order terminating her residual rights to her son. Mother signed the order as “Seen and Agreed.” Her parental rights to her four older children already had been terminated and, therefore, Mother certainly understood the consequences of a parental rights termination proceeding. Mother argued that she had signed the order under duress, but was unable to specify how she had been under duress. Mother also claimed there were family members who could care for her son, but was unable to give the court any names.

2007—Wooten v. Henrico County Department of Social Services, 2007 Va. App. Unpublished, 96
Trial judge erred in terminating Mother’s parental rights where the sole basis for the termination was Mother’s incarceration. Mother has demonstrated the willingness and ability to take advantage of all the parenting and skill development classes offered to her during her incarceration and has had continual contact with her child during her incarceration. Upon her release, Mother has a plan that will enable her to pay off her debts, provide stable housing, and provide stable care for her child.

2006—Abbitt v. Lynchburg Division of Social Services, 2006 Va. App. Unpublished, 484
There was no error in trial court’s decision terminating Father’s residual parental rights. Division of Social Services presented clear and convincing evidence that Father could not correct the conditions that resulted in abuse and neglect of the child within a reasonable period of time and that Division of Social Services provided adequate services based on Father’s needs. Father would not leave Mother despite her history of child abuse. Father failed to keep some of his appointments with professionals, and he struggled with basic safety concepts.

2006—Butler v. Culpeper County Department of Social Services, 48 Va. App. 537
Trial court properly relied on entrustment agreements entered into between appellant Mother and Department of Social Services, and clear and convincing evidence supported terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children. Because appellant did not provide the Department of Social Services with written revocation of the entrustment agreements, they were properly before the court. Moreover, evidence supported termination as Mother, inter alia, suffers from drug addiction, has been incarcerated due to her conduct, and is not reasonably likely to correct the problems.

2006—Cartwright v. Cartwright, 49 Va. App. 25
Father, non-custodial parent, was not invested with “care and custody” of his children and thus could not be relieved of parental rights and obligations. Thus, his petition for voluntary relinquishment and termination of his parental rights was properly denied.

2006— Fauncher-Whitney v. City of Hampton Department of Social Services, 2006 Va. App. Unpublished, 449
Trial court did not err by terminating appellant’s parental rights to her child pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(2). Family failed to clean home adequately and remove safety hazards. The four-year-old child weighed 20 pounds. She frequently cried at school. She suffered from a genetic disorder, severe mental retardation and physical delay. Since being in foster care, her condition had improved drastically. She gained weight, learned to communicate, and was placed in a school that could address her special needs. Mother did not take advantage of visitation opportunities. In short, Mother did not remedy substantially the conditions which led to or required the continuation of child’s foster care.

2006—Richmond Department of Social Services v. Crawley, 47 Va. App. 572
Trial court did not err in denying the Department of Social Services petition to terminate Mother’s parental rights where the Department of Social Services did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that termination was in the children’s best interests. Evidence indicated that Mother was a loving mother who made efforts to find housing for the children and employment for herself; while in the hospital and in jail she maintained contact with her children; and she attended substance abuse classes. Foster care was necessary only because of the situation in which the mother found herself.

2006— Rothgeb, Sr., v. Harrisonburg Rockingham Department of Social Services, 2006 Va. App. Unpublished, 583
Trial court did not err in terminating appellant’s parental rights to his three children under Va. Code §16.1-283(B). Evidence showed that Father sometimes drank excessively so that he would pass out and he had four DUI convictions. There was evidence of domestic violence and specifically of violence toward the children. Children told counselors of their fear of their father. Father failed to meet the basic needs of the children.

2006—Seibert v. Alexandria Division of Social Services, 2006 Va. App. Unpublished, 521
Trial court did not err in terminating Father’s parental rights to his daughter. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) reports were properly prepared and admitted. The admission of any hearsay evidence was harmless. There was no error in admitting expert testimony that adoption was in the child’s best interests.

2006—Varick v. Newport News Department of Social Services, 2006 Va. App. Unpublished, 472
Trial court did not err in terminating father’s residual parental rights to his minor son under either Va. Code §16.1-283(C)(1) or Va. Code §16.1-283 (C)(2). Father was incarcerated and had not seen his son since 1998. Father did not respond to foster care service plans. Meanwhile, the child was thriving in foster care.

2005—Fields v. Dinwiddie County Department of Social Services, 46 Va. App. 1
Trial court did not err in terminating appellant’s residual parental rights. Mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but refused to take her medicine or regularly attend counseling sessions or appointments with her psychiatrist, refused to take parenting classes, and on supervised visitation failed to handle or feed the child in an age appropriate manner. Termination was in the child’s best interests.

2005—Toms v. Hanover Department of Social Services, 46 Va. App 257
Trial court did not err in terminating father’s parental rights to six of his children under Va. Code §16.1-283(B). A psychologist testified to profound neglect as evidenced by the children’s underdeveloped speech, intelligence, motor skills, and social and emotional functioning. Moreover, the residence was so pathetically substandard that it in itself demonstrated abuse and neglect. Psychological testing of Father revealed mental illness and evidence showed history of alcoholism. Record supported circuit court’s finding that Father could not within a reasonable amount of time substantially remedy the situation that resulted in his children being placed in foster care. Neither statutory nor constitutional law requires that the court order rehabilitative services.

2000—Fields v. Hopewell DSS, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Unpublished, No. 1936-99-2
Evidence meeting the requirements of Virginia Code §16.1-283 is sufficient to rebut the natural-parent presumption. Trial court did not err in holding that DSS rebutted the presumption in favor of the child’s father based on evidence that the father had no contact with the child for years, provided no support, and made no attempt to plan for the child’s future.

1991 --- Jenkins v. Winchester Dept. of Social Servs., 12 Va. App. 1178
In a termination of parental rights matter, the trial court did not err in admitting evidence relating to the previous termination of Mother’s residual parental rights in her other children. Evidence is relevant if it has any logical tendency, however slight, to prove a fact in issue in the case. The evidence of the previous termination of rights as to the other children not only tended to, but in fact, cast light upon the issue of whether Mother’s parenting abilities created a substantial risk of abuse in the present case. While this type of evidence was potentially prejudicial, that fact alone was not sufficient to cause its exclusion if it was otherwise relevant. Further, the record contained no indication that the introduction of this evidence caused the trial court to be unduly hostile toward Mother.

1990—Kaywood v. Halifax County of Department of Social Services, 10 Va. App. 535
It is clearly not in the best interests of a child to spend a lengthy period of time waiting to find out when, or even if, a parent will be capable of resuming his (or her) responsibilities.

(1) Transfer

2013—Thompson v. Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Va. Ct. of Appeals, Nos. 2185-12-4, 2216-12-4, 2217-12-4, 2232-12-4 (accord, Dinwiddie Department of Social Services v. Nunnally, Va. Sup. Ct., No. 131584 (Oct. 31, 2014))
Under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a state court shall transfer a termination of parental rights case involving an Indian child not domiciled on a reservation unless the court finds “good cause” not to transfer the case. “Good cause” exists where the transfer of jurisdiction itself would cause immediate, serious emotional or physical damage to the child.

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