Over the last few years, there have been several termination of parental rights (TPR) cases published by the Indiana appellate courts involving incarcerated parents. Two more were added to the list in July 2014:
In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: Z.C., Minor Child, and S.C., Mother v. Indiana Department of Child Services (7/11/2014, Ind.Ct.App.). Z.C. (“the child”) was born with controlled substances in his bloodstream and S.C. (“the mother”) admitted to using several drugs while pregnant. Before the child was released from the hospital, the mother was arrested and incarcerated on federal drug charges. The mother remained incarcerated throughout the CHINS and TPR cases, had never had exclusive physical custody of the child or an older child, and misrepresented the identity of the putative father to the court for several months. The sentencing date and length of sentence for the federal criminal case were unknown at the time of the TPR hearing, but the mother’s attorney stated that the sentence would be ten years unless renegotiated. That evidence supported the conclusion that the conditions that resulted in the child’s removal from the mother’s custody would not be remedied.
In RE the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of K.W., a Minor Child, and His Mother, C.C. v. Indiana Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., (7/10/14 Ind.). The Court has “repeatedly emphasized the importance of caution and care in these sorts of cases — from all involved — as the repercussions that flow from them can be devastating to every member of a family.” Here, the mother’s attorney requested a continuance of the TPR hearing because the mother was incarcerated in the local jail, but due to be released in a few days. The court denied the request for continuance and ordered that her parental rights be terminated. The Court found that the denial of the motion for a continuance was an abuse of discretion under the facts and circumstances of the case.