Sections 39.806(1)(e)(1) and (3)-Evidence did not support the termination of a mother’s parental rights under Sections 39.806(1)(e)(1) or (3) for case plan noncompliance where review of the record showed mother had successfully completed all tasks in her case plans

C.R. v. Dep’t of Children & Families, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 11041 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. August 8, 2018)

The Third DCA reversed and remanded the order that terminated mother’s parental rights pursuant to §§ 39.806(1)(e)(1) and 39.806(1)(e)(3), because the evidence did not support the trial court’s finding that mother had failed to substantially comply with her case plan tasks.  Acknowledging that completion of tasks in a case plan does not necessarily equate to “substantial compliance”, the appellate court conducted a detailed review of the record and found the circumstances which caused the creation of the case plan had, in fact, been significantly remedied by mother, and therefore she had substantially complied with her case plan.  Thus, termination pursuant to § 39.806(1)(e)(1) was improper.  Termination pursuant to § 39.806(1)(e)(3) was also improper, despite fact that the child had been in care for 12 of the last 22 months, because mother had substantially complied with her case plan.

Reversed and remanded.

Practice Tip: In order to terminate parental rights pursuant to 39.806(1)(e)(3), the child must have been in care for any 12 of the last 22 months and the parent must not have substantially complied with the case plan so as to permit reunification under § 39.522(2), Fla. Stat. (2018), which addresses reunification in light of conditions for return and in home safety plan.

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