In the Matter of the Welfare of the Child of: T. A. L. B. and T. M., Parents.
Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-JV-12-2564.
Nicole S. Gronneberg, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant T.M.).
Allison L. Marshall, LEGALnudge, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent T.A.L.B.).
John M. Jerabek, St. Paul, Minnesota (for guardian ad litem).
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
Appellant T.M. challenges the involuntary termination of his parental rights, arguing that (1) the record lacks clear and convincing evidence that he abandoned his child, (2) termination is not in the child's best interests, and (3) the district court erred by denying his motion for a directed verdict that asserted that reasonable efforts for reunification were required before the termination. We affirm.
Respondent T.A.L.B. and T.M. are the biological parents of K.A.L., who was born in 2005. T.A.L.B. and T.M. were not in a long-term relationship at the time K.A.L. was conceived. They have never lived or resided in the same state. T.A.L.B. moved from Ohio to Georgia shortly after becoming pregnant with K.A.L. Although she informed T.M. of the pregnancy, he was not present at the birth and did not contribute to the financial costs associated with the birth.
T.M. has seen K.A.L. three times. The first visit took place in 2005 when K.A.L. was five weeks old. While T.A.L.B. was in Ohio to visit her parents, T.M. arranged to see K.A.L. to determine "if she looked like [him]." He spent approximately 30 minutes with T.A.L.B. and K.A.L. He held K.A.L. for a few minutes and handed her back to T.A.L.B. when she began to cry. Four years then passed without any further contact between T.M. and K.A.L.
In 2009, when K.A.L. was four years old, T.A.L.B. initiated child-support proceedings against T.M. in Ohio after making no progress with her efforts to obtain child support through Georgia's court system. As a part of the Ohio proceedings, T.M. was confirmed as K.A.L.'s biological father. Later that year, when T.A.L.B. and K.A.L. visited Ohio, T.M. and his mother spent a few hours with K.A.L.
In 2010, when K.A.L. was five years old, T.A.L.B. again returned to Ohio to see her parents. During that visit, T.M. took K.A.L. to a restaurant and, the next day, attended a cookout at T.A.L.B.'s mother's house where K.A.L. was present. Although T.M. was at the cookout for 2-3 hours, he had what T.A.L.B. characterized as "very, very minimal" interaction with K.A.L. Aside from K.A.L. asking T.M. if he wanted to come in, and the two later saying "goodbye, " they did not interact. T.M. last spoke to K.A.L. in January 2011.
Since July 2011, T.M. has been incarcerated in a federal penitentiary. His scheduled release date is in January 2017. T.M. was in arrears in his child support prior to incarceration and remains so. He has paid approximately $7, 000 of court-ordered child support to T.A.L.B. and has ...