No. 335375.

In re TYRRELL, Minors.

Court of Appeals of Michigan.

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case



ROBERT L. BYINGTON , for Respondent-Appellant.




Respondent appeals by right the trial court's order terminating her parental rights to two children. We affirm.

Respondent is not challenging the court's determination that the statutory grounds for termination, MCL 712A.19b(3), were established by clear and convincing evidence. Her only argument is that the court erred in determining that termination is in the best interests of the children. MCL 712A.19b(5). We review the court's findings for clear error. MCR 3.977(K); In re White, 303 Mich.App. 701; 713; 846 N.W.2d 61 (2014). "A finding of fact is clearly erroneous if the reviewing court has a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed, giving due regard to the trial court's special opportunity to observe the witnesses." In re BZ, 264 Mich.App. 286, 296-297; 690 N.W.2d 505 (2004).

After the trial court finds that at least one statutory ground for terminating parental rights has been proven, the court must consider whether terminating parental rights is in the child's best interests. In re Olive/Metts Minors, 297 Mich.App. 35, 40; 823 N.W.2d 144 (2012). "If the court finds that there are grounds for termination of parental rights and that termination of parental rights is in the child's best interests, the court shall order termination of parental rights and order that additional efforts for reunification of the child with the parent not be made." MCL 712A.19b(5).

When deciding whether terminating parental rights is in a child's best interests, the trial court should weigh all of the available evidence. In re White, 303 Mich App at 713. The court should consider evidence of "the child's bond to the parent, the parent's parenting ability, the child's need for permanency, stability, and finality, and the advantages of a foster home over the parent's home." In re Olive/Metts, 297 Mich App at 41-42. The court "may also consider a parent's history of domestic violence, the parent's compliance with his or her case service plan, the parent's visitation history with the child, the children's well-being while in care, and the possibility of adoption." In re White, 303 Mich App at 714. A "`child's placement with relatives weighs against termination,'" and the trial court must explicitly consider the relative placement when deciding whether termination is in a child's best interests. In re Olive/Metts, 297 Mich App at 43, quoting In re Mason, 486 Mich. 142, 164; 782 N.W.2d 747 (2010).

Respondent has an extensive criminal and delinquency history dating back 16 years. In the eight years before the termination hearing, she was named in well over 130 police reports, with nearly 100 of those related to fighting or some sort of dispute. Indeed, she was in jail at the time of the termination hearing.

Additionally, the younger of the two children tested positive for marijuana at birth, a circumstance of concern to petitioner, especially given respondent's history. Despite evidence that her regular marijuana use impaired her ability to care for her children, respondent consistently indicated that she would not stop using the drug. Moreover, the record shows, and respondent acknowledged, that she failed to complete nearly all services offered to help her get her children back.

It was not clear error for the court to determine that it was in the children's best interests to terminate the parental rights of a combative parent who has been in and out of trouble for over a decade and a half and who has rebuffed all opportunities to accept responsibility for her situation and work to rectify the conditions that resulted in the removal of the children from her care and custody. This evidence speaks of a parent unable to put the care of her children above her own professed interests, a conclusion buttressed by evidence that she was at fault for failing to attend roughly half of 35 parenting-time visits provided to her in a six-month timeframe.

We affirm.


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