J.M.R. V. COM.
FAMILY LAW: TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS; HEARSAY EVIDENCE
PANEL: THOMPSON PRESIDING; STUMBO, NICKELL CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 10/26/2007
Mother appealed the termination of her parental rights to her two infant children. Mother alleged TC made three errors. First, she alleged it was error to permit the children’s therapists to testify about statements made to them by the children about the abuse. CA held that the testimony of the therapist was admissible under KRE 803(4). CA opined that the statements were made to the therapist so that they could determine what happened and determine what treatment was necessary. Therefore, the statements were made for the purpose of receiving medical treatment.
Next, Mother argued that not allowing the children to testify violated her constitutional rights. CA held that it was not error to refuse to allow the children to testify. CA reasoned that the children were questioned by the court in camera with Mother’s counsel present. Therefore, she had been afforded an opportunity to question the children. TC did not error in its finding that it would not be in the best interest of the children to make them testify.
Finally, Mother alleged that the TC erred in holding that she had failed to provide for the essential needs of her children. CA opined that Mother’s failure to pay court ordered child support, while the children were in state custody, and the fact that she still resided with the children’s stepfather, and abuser, who paid all of the household bills was substantial evidence to prove she had failed to provide for their essential needs. Furthermore, CA opined that even if it was error it was harmless because her rights would have been terminated based on the abuse.