Hamblen County Juvenile Court Judge Janice Snider was justified in terminating the parental rights of a Hamblen County man who was incarcerated for theft, an appeals court has ruled.
In January 2018, Snider initially found that terminating the father’s parental rights was not in the best interest of the children, a boy and a girl, because he had an upcoming parole hearing that could have resulted in his release.
When the parole hearing did not occur due to the father’s failure to complete paperwork, the juvenile court judge granted a Tennessee Department of Children’s Services motion to end the father’s parental rights, concluding that was in the best interest of the children, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled.
The father had written and attempted to maintain contact with his children, but by the time the case was adjudicated, the children had been living with foster parents for nearly two years, and the children had bonded with them. The foster parents, who had expressed a desire to adopt, had also made accommodations for the male child, who had spina bifida, according to the opinion.
“A change of caretakers at this point in the children’s life would be detrimental to their emotional condition and (the boy’s) medical condition,” the opinion states. “The children should be allowed to achieve permanency and stability in their current home.’
State law provides that a judge may terminate the parental rights of a parent who was incarcerated for four consecutive months prior to the date the petition is filed. The appellate in the case had been behind bars for far longer than four months and faced years longer, according to the opinion.
“We agree with the trial court that the totality of the circumstances presented in this case support a finding of wanton disregard for the welfare of the children,” the appeals court concluded.
The mother’s parental rights had been terminated earlier, and she was not a party in the case.