Monday, April 16, 2012

Termination of Parental Rights Must Be in Child’s Best Interests

A.A. v. State of Utah, 2011 UT App. 397, Utah Court of Appeals November 25, 2011

District Court terminated Mother’s (A.A.’s) parental rights based on Mother’s unfitness because of mental illness.  Mother appealed and argued that the termination was not in the child’s best interest.

Mother argued that Daughter does not want to be adopted.  Daughter was having visits with mother and the state argued that such visits were an impediment to Daughter being adopted.  Several adoptive homes were tested, but at the time of trial and continuing during appeal is the fact that the child has no current prospective adoptive home.  While the lack of an adoptive placement does not preclude termination, it is a relevant factor.  Mother and daughter had established a loving relationship.  While Mother could not care for her daughter, the visits with Mother had been an integral part of the setting in which Daughter had flourished.  While Mother admits she is unfit, and generally terminating an unfit parent is in the child’s best interests, this is an exception.  Reversed and Remanded.

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