J.P. v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 167394 (Fla. 1st DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights as to her daughter, T.P. The First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) affirmed the TPR utilizing the “highly deferential” standard of review.

T.P. came to the attention of the department following two hospitalizations for nephrotic syndrome and allegations of medical neglect. Mother was provided training on her daughter’s diagnosis and resulting needs. Mother was openly not supportive of the dietary restrictions required to maintain her child’s health and repeatedly failed to comply with the restrictions. Termination was granted under § 39.806(1)(c).

The First DCA held that its review of a trial court’s decision “is limited to whether competent, substantial evidence supports the trial court’s final judgment.” Such a review is highly deferential. Citing to J .E. v. Department of Children and Families, 126 So. 3d 424, 237 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013) (quoting D.P. v. Department of Children and Family Services, 930 So. 2d 798, 801 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)). The First DCA noted that “a finding that evidence is clear and convincing enjoys a presumption of correctness and will not be overturned on appeal unless clearly erroneous or lacking in evidentiary support.”The First DCA declined to reweigh the evidence presented at trial and found sufficient evidence in the record to support all required findings.

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