FAMILY LAW – Termination of parental rights: W.A. v. Cabinet for Health and Family Services (COA 10/31/2008 – DR GRANTED)

W.A. v. Cabinet for Health and Family Services
2008 WL 5473623 DR filed
Opinion by Judge Moore; Judge Caperton and Senior Judge Guidugli concurred.

The Court affirmed an order and judgment of the circuit court terminating appellants’ parental rights.

The Court held that there was substantial evidence to support the family court’s determination that the child qualified as neglected under KRS 600.020(1) based on testimony that 1) either or both parents were substantially incapable of providing essential care; 2) the mother was not able to financially support the child for that period of time; 3) there was a period of 90 days when the parents had no contact with the child; 4) the child tested positive for cocaine at birth and was immediately placed in the Cabinet’s care; 5) the Cabinet retained custody for 15 months before filing the petition; 6) although both parents obtained treatment for substance abuse problems, they were unable to remain drug free during the entire 15 months; 7) the mother gave birth to another child who tested positive for cocaine one year after the birth of this child; and 8) there were multiple domestic violence incidents between the parents up to one month before the hearing in family court. Also, based on this testimony, the Court then held that the trial court did not err in finding the existence of one or more grounds for terminating parental rights as required by KRS 625.090(2).

The Court finally held that the trial court did not err in finding that termination was in the best interest of the child, as required by KRS 625.090, based on the following facts: 1) Reasonable reunification efforts had been made. 2) The mother had only been working at her new job for less than a month at the time of hearing. 3) While the mother had obtained housing at the time of the hearing, the parents had not been able to keep housing for more than three months due to drug problems. 4) The parents were involved in domestic violence up to one month before the hearing and the father was in jail awaiting adjudication for criminal charges arising from the incident.

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