Single Parent TPR: Reversal of order terminating father’s parental rights on appeal requires reversal of order terminating mother’s parental rights as well.

A.M.B. v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —- (2017)

Both parent’s rights were terminated below, but order terminating father’s parental rights was reversed on appeal based on concession of error by Department of Children and Families. Following precedent set by the Second DCA, the First DCA held that order terminating mother’s rights must also be reversed because reversal of father’s order created a single parent termination as to mother, and Department had not established grounds for single parent termination pursuant to 39.811(6)(a)-(d).

Although an appellate court can still affirm a single-parent termination if the actual ground for termination as to that parent is one of the grounds described in section 39.811(6)(e) and that portion of the judgment is otherwise affirmable, mother’s rights in this case were terminated pursuant to 39.801(e) for case plan non-compliance, which is not listed ground under 39.811(6)(e).

Practice Tip: In all cases where rights of both rights are terminated, it is best practice for the petitioner to plead and prove factors for single parent termination under 39.811(6) if applicable, and for the trial court to make specific findings of fact addressing 39.811(6) as a precaution against the possibility that one parent’s termination is reversed on appeal.

Remember: Recent amendments to Chapter 39 added sections 39.806(1)(c) and (n) to 39.811(6)(e).

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