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In re Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of Z.B.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 31, 2018

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of Z.B., D.B., L.B., Me.B., Ma.B. (Minor Children) and A.B. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent,
v.
The Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner, and Delaware County, Indiana CASA, Appellee-Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court The Honorable Kimberly S. Dowling, Judge The Honorable Amanda L. Yonally, Magistrate Trial Court Cause Nos. 18C02-1609-JT-37, 18C02-1609-JT-38, 18C02-1609-JT-39, 18C02-1609-JT-40, 18C02-1611-JT-53

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Ana M. Quirk Muncie, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE THE INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SERVICES Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Robert J. Henke Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE DELAWARE COUNTY, INDIANA CASA Jon L. Orlosky Muncie, Indiana

          Bailey, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] A.B. ("Mother") challenges the juvenile court's decision to terminate her parental rights as to her five children who had previously been adjudicated Children in Need of Services ("CHINS"): Z.B., D.B., L.B., Me.B., (the "Siblings") and Ma.B (collectively, the "Children").[1] Notably, the Delaware County Department of Child Services ("DCS") opposed terminating Mother's parental rights with respect to Ma.B., but Ma.B's court-appointed special advocates (the "CASAs") pursued termination through counsel. Mother now presents the following consolidated and restated issues:

I. Whether a CASA has the statutory authority to prosecute a petition to terminate parental rights when DCS opposes termination; and
II. Whether there is sufficient evidence supporting the termination of Mother's parental rights.

         [¶2] We affirm, but remand for correction of certain scrivener's errors.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] At some point, DCS alleged that the Children were CHINS, and, in May of 2015, Diana Robertson and Mary Fitzgerald became the Children's CASAs. In June of 2015, Ma.B. was adjudicated a CHINS, and Mother admitted certain CHINS allegations as to the Siblings, including:

a. On or about April 10, 2015, [Mother] entered into an Informal Adjustment with [DCS] due to educational neglect, substance abuse, home conditions, and lack of supervision.
b. [Mother] was positive on April 16, 2015 for methamphetamines and uses other illicit substances such as, but not limited to, heroin, methamphetamines and prescription narcotics.
c. Home conditions barely meet minimal standards and [M]other is struggling to maintain appropriate living conditions.
d. Mother struggles to control [Z.B.'s] behaviors as he is destructive, violent and injures the other children.

Ex. Vol. I at 26, 167; Ex. Vol. II at 58, 201.

         [¶4] The Siblings were at one point placed with family. As to Ma.B., Mother consented to a modification of custody so that C.B. ("Father") became Ma.B.'s custodian, and Ma.B. began living with Father and his wife ("Stepmother").

         [¶5] On September 30, 2016, DCS filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights as to the Siblings. On November 21, 2016, the CASAs filed a petition to terminate Mother's parental rights as to Ma.B. DCS and Mother then moved to dismiss the petition concerning Ma.B., arguing-among other things-that the CASAs could not prosecute a petition to terminate parental rights where DCS did not support the petition.[2] The court denied the motions to dismiss and consolidated the proceedings concerning the Children. The court then held a fact-finding hearing on June 15, August 23, and October 18, 2017. The court took the matter under advisement, and later entered an order terminating Mother's parental rights to the Children.

         [¶6] Mother now appeals.

         Discussion ...


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