M.D. v. State, 187 So.3d 1275 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights which was based on abandonment. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed termination.

Father was incarcerated at the time of the termination trial and had been incarcerated for the two years prior to the trial. Father testified at trial that the last time he saw his child was when she was two years old, two years prior to the termination trial. Evidence was presented by the Department that during Father’s incarceration he sent his daughter only two letters. Although Father contradicted this testimony saying that he wrote weekly letters, he could only produce 8 letters and no evidence that any of them had been sent.

The Fourth DCA cited to J.G. v. Department of Children and Families, 22 So.3d 774 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009), which held that the appellate court’s review of termination orders is limited to whether competent substantial evidence supports the trial court’s judgment. In the instant case, the Fourth DCA found that the trial court’s finding of abandonment was based on competent substantial evidence and that Father failed to maintain a substantial and positive relationship with his child.

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