Terminating Parental Rights; You Gotta Cover Both Bases

We’ve been here before, but enough of us still aren’t getting the message; let’s say it again. A party seeking to terminate the parental rights of a parent must satisfy both prongs of a two-prong test. He or she must first show that valid grounds exist for the termination of parental rights. Then he or she must also show that all viable alternatives to termination have been considered (and rejected). Ex parte Beasley, 564 So. 2d 950 (Ala. 1990).

We have another example of the two-pronged test in C.E.W. v P.J.G., Case No. 2070934 (Ala. Civ. App. January 30, 2009). The mother was deceased. The child’s great aunt, who had been caring for the child, petitioned for termination of the father’s parental rights.

The hapless father admitted he hadn’t financially supported or visited the child. He had been in out of incarceration in Tennessee and Alabama and told the court he was “not a very family-oriented person.” The juvenile court entered a judgment terminating the father’s parental rights. Clearly the grounds existed for termination of his parental rights. The issue was whether the great aunt had satisfied the other prong of the test. The appeals court ruled that she had not.

The burden was on the great-aunt, as the party petitioning to terminate parental rights, to present evidence in support of each part of the two-pronged test discussed in Ex parte Beasley, supra. Ex parte T.V., supra. The only evidence presented at the termination hearing was the testimony of the father. That testimony concerned only the issue whether grounds existed pursuant to § 26-18-7, Ala. Code 1975, to warrant the termination of the father’s parental rights. The record contains no evidence on the issue whether there existed viable alternatives to the termination of the father’s parental rights. Thus, the record does not support a conclusion that the great-aunt met her burden with regard to the two-pronged test for the termination of parental rights, nor does it indicate that there was any evidence upon which the juvenile court could evaluate alternatives to the termination of the father’s parental rights. See Ex parte Beasley, supra; Ex parte T.V., supra. Based on the foregoing, we must reverse the juvenile court’s judgment terminating the father’s parental rights. C.E.W. v. P.J.G., supra at 12-13.

One comment

  1. wanda dawson says:

    I totally agree with you!My Daughter,lost Her P.R. in 2007,she & and I the{GRANDMOTHER}was the only ones “trying”because of the Advise of my Daughters ATTORNEY, she didnt “APPERAL”! !NOW I cant SEE MY G.CHILDREN.THEYre in FOSTER CARE.IM trying now to ORGANIZE A GROUP “NO GRANDPARENTS OF ALABAMA”I you have any INFO,PLEASE,PLEASE,send it to ME,I need all the help I can get I LOVE MY G.CHILDREN MORE THAN LIFE! AGAIN THANK YOU WANDA DAWSON “NO GRANDPARENT RIGHTS OF ALABAMA”

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