In the Interest of A.R., 2014 WL 3537020 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights following Mother’s private petition for termination.  Mother’s underlying petition cited Fla. Statute § 39.806(1)(d)(1), which allows for termination when the parent is expected to be incarcerated for a significant portion of the child’s minority.  The trial court did not permit Father to present evidence regarding the nature of his relationship with the child, his attempts to maintain a relationship with the child or the extent to which Mother interfered with the relationship between Father and child.  The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) held that the  trial court must not only examine the length of a parent’s incarceration but also examine whether termination is the least restrictive means to protect the child from harm – including the nature of the relationship with the child.  The Second DCA found the trial court examined the proper statutory factors but placed undue weight on the mere fact that the father was incarcerated.

The Second DCA reversed the trial court’s termination order.

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