In the Matter of the Welfare of the Children of: T. L. D. T., a/k/a L. D. T. T., Parent.
Hennepin County District Court File Nos. 27-JV-12-7400, 27-JV-11-6227, 27-JV-11-10515, 27-JV-11-10518
William M. Ward, Hennepin County Chief Public Defender, Paul J. Maravigli, Assistant Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant father T.L.D.T.).
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Cory A. Carlson, Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department).
Eric S. Rehm, Burnsville, Minnesota (for respondent guardian).
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Chief Judge; and Toussaint, Judge. [*]
Appellant challenges the termination of his parental rights (TPR), arguing that the record does not support the district court's determinations that he (1) neglected his parental duties, (2) is a palpably unfit parent, and (3) failed to correct the conditions leading to out-of-home placement. Appellant also argues that TPR is not in the best interests of the children. We affirm.
Appellant T. L. D. T., a/k/a L. D. T. T. and S.T. are married. S.T. is cognitively disabled with an I.Q. of 43, and is a vulnerable adult. Appellant is 59 years old and is cognitively delayed with an I.Q. of 61. The couple voluntarily transferred legal and physical custody of their four-year-old son to his maternal grandmother. On June 21, 2010, S.T. gave birth to E.T. E.T. has been in court-ordered out-of-home placement since August 30, 2010. In February 2011, the district court terminated S.T.'s and appellant's parental rights to E.T. Appellant challenged the TPR, and this court reversed. See In re Welfare of the Child of S.T., No. A11-443 (Minn.App. Oct. 24, 2011).
On July 18, 2011, while the appeal was pending, S.T. gave birth to twins K.T. and N.T. At three days old, the twins began living in court-ordered out-of-home placement. In November 2011, respondent Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department filed a CHIPS petition. The district court determined that E.T., K.T., and N.T. were in need of protection or services, and ordered appellant to comply with a case plan. On August 13, 2012, respondent petitioned to terminate appellant's parental rights.
During the four-day trial, the district court heard testimony from several witnesses, including appellant, the children's pediatricians and therapist, a parenting-program coordinator, a parenting-development instructor, a child-protection worker, and the children's guardian ad litem. On December 31, 2012, the district court concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence to support the TPR. This appeal follows.
Parental rights may be terminated "only for grave and weighty reasons." In re Welfare of Child of W.L.P., 678 N.W.2d 703, 709 (Minn.App. 2004). TPR requires clear and convincing evidence that (1) there is a statutory ground for termination, (2) the county has made reasonable efforts to reunite the family, and (3) termination is in the child's best interests. In re Welfare of Children of S.E.P., 744 N.W.2d 381, 385 (Minn. 2008). We review the district court's findings "to determine whether they address the statutory criteria for [TPR] and are not clearly erroneous, in light of the clear-and-convincing standard of proof." In re Welfare of Children of K.S.F., 823 N.W.2d 656, 665 (Minn.App. 2012) (citation omitted). We review the district court's conclusion that the requirements for TPR have been established for an abuse of discretion. See In re Welfare of Children of J.R.B., 805 N.W.2d 895, 900 (Minn.App. 2011), review denied (Minn. Jan. 6, 2012). This court will affirm the district court's decision when at least one statutory ground for TPR is supported by clear and convincing evidence and TPR is in the child's best interests. In re Welfare of Children of R.W., 678 N.W.2d 49, 55 (Minn. 2004).
The district court found that three statutory bases for TPR were proved by clear and convincing evidence: (1) appellant failed to comply with his parental duties; (2)appellant is a palpably unfit parent; and (3) reasonable efforts have failed to correct the conditions that lead to ...